Ideal Team Size for the CanSat Competition

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OLIVIER DE WECK: Teamwork is an essential part of the class. Because any great system or product is really the result of a teamwork, where in a team you have to balance essentially your own ideas and your own desires with what your teammates think. And the dynamics of successful teams show that diversity is important, being able to openly share ideas, also the ability to compromise and not always getting one's way.

What we found over the years-- and I think this is also supported by research and scholarship in design-- is that the optimal team size is about five. Four to six, maybe up to seven people is the ideal size of teams for this kind of project. And why is that? If you create a smaller team, you have less diversity of ideas. And you also have less man or brain power, of course, to get work done. Since once you decompose the project into its elements, each of these elements needs to be done carefully. So you want to have a team that's large enough to do the work within the time constraints.

On the other hand, if the team is too large, then there's a lot of coordination, there's a lot of overhead. Just being able to meet whether it's physically or online becomes harder. And the efficiency of the team goes down. And so we found that a team size of about five people is ideal for this kind of a project.

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