This paper presents a case study problem statement tested in the design studio with the intent of teaching methods for engaging systematic thinking as a process for deriving solutions to parametric design problems. The intent is to address the simulation environment developed through complex systems and interject a curve ball, or unexpected constraint delimiting the solution as part of the design process. This method was tested through the submittal of the projects to international design competitions. The students were asked to manipulate the competition criteria by appealing not only to the design criteria but also to the juries desire (whether conscious or unconscious) for novel sustainable processes of material usage and program. This material ecology is developed as a method for linking parametric modeling, not as a process for the application of a construction technique, but as a way to pre-rationalize material constraints and discover how program and form can operate within those constraints. In the first year of the studio two of six teams were selected as finalists and in the second year of the studio five of seven of the teams were selected as finalists.