Engineering Students Build and Race Toboggans Made of Concrete

The Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race involves more than 450 engineering students from across Canada.

(Image courtesy of Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race.)

(Image courtesy of Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race.)

The annual Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race recently took place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with more than 450 engineering students from across Canada participating.

First established in 1975 as a winter adaptation of the American Concrete Canoe Race, it is the largest engineering student-run competition in Canada, testing competitors on their engineering skills in a variety of ways including theoretical design, steering, sustainability and team spirit.

Participating engineering students have strict rules to adhere to when designing and building their toboggan. The skis, or running surface, must be entirely comprised of concrete, the toboggan must safely transport five passengers, and the vehicle must weigh less than 350lbs. There are also requirements for functioning steering and braking systems.

The overall winners were presented with the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) cup for being awarded the most points across all categories. There are also awards for finishing first in the race. Many of the awards also include a mixture of judges scoring and crowd participation.

This year’s award winners included overall champions, and CSCE cup winners, Queen’s University from Kingston, Ontario, winning the most points overall, as well as the race champion, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Other awards included best new team, the people’s choice award, the team spirit award and best theme costume.

This year’s event executive committee included several engineering graduates and working engineers-in-training (EITs). The committee is chaired by John Grogan, a 2013 graduate of the University of Manitoba’s Biosystems Engineering program who has attended five previous events representing the University of Manitoba.

The four-day event was comprised of meetups at the Forks, a large recreational space located in downtown Winnipeg and an exhibition for teams to display their creation via a formal presentation to a panel of judges. This was followed by the main race day and an awards ceremony and after party.

In the past, the event winners’ institution would acquire the privilege of hosting the next event; however, hosting now alternatives between west and east using the Manitoba and Ontario border as a divide. Next year, the event will take place in Waterloo, Ontario.

You can find out more about this year’s event and awards at the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race website.