Simulation and Engineering Software
Imagine you built a simulator so that when you added weight to the climber, the ribbon dimensions got bigger. If a spreadsheet created calculations that boiled down to simple algebraic formulas, those could be put into a video game.If someone improves the spreadsheet, they can swap in a different algebraic constant.
There is also Finite Element Analysis software: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_finite_element_software_packages
Dynamics, basic principles relationships, materials properties,...
We will be using a physics engine, but with a rather small number of 1,000s lb boxes :-) We need to figure how one can help here.
Ribbon dimensions, performance trade-offs, overall interactions matrix.
3-D Design Files
Sketchup, Cinema 4-D, others
NASA's free code: http://opensource.arc.nasa.gov/