UBC Concrete Toboggan Team celebrates a strong showing at GNCTR 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 | By Lindsay Cashin

The UBC Concrete Toboggan Team recently returned from a strong showing at “the world’s most epic engineering competition,” Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race 2015, hosted by UBC-Okanagan.  Four days of networking with over 400 of their counterparts from other universities, faculty, and industry representatives; showcasing their innovative design at Tech-Ex (the annual GNCTR technical exhibition); and averting last minute design disasters culminated in a solid 7th place finish for speed and entry into the afternoon King of the Hill tournament where they beat the University of Toronto in the first round head to head race.

On race day, the team’s quick thinking and ingenuity was put to the test when disaster struck at the eleventh hour.  After unpacking their sled from the shipping crate and successfully installing the steering system and composite timber-concrete skis, the team encountered a major failure in the design of their skis as they pushed the sled across the snow-covered parking lot to the base of the race hill. A combination of cold temperatures at Big White and the additional internal stress from bolting the skis to the mounting plates caused the epoxy between the concrete and timber components of the skis to fail, resulting in the two materials delaminate from one another. However, using the tools they had on the mountain, and salvaging some of the bolts they used to construct their shipping crate, the team managed to fix the skis by drilling directly through the concrete and skis and use the countersunk bolts to keep the two components together, while maintaining a flat concrete sliding surface for the race.

Despite the almost-catastrophic sled failure, the team managed to place 7th in the morning Drag Strip run, advancing them to the afternoon King of the Hill tournament where they beat the University of Toronto in the first round head to head race. Ultimately, the team was knocked out in the following quarterfinal against UBC-Okanagan, but was pleased with their impressive 7th place result out of 17 competitors in the speed event. Complete race results will be available in the coming weeks, and UBC Concrete Toboggan hopes to place in the top eight in the final competition standings.

The full team of 30 students, representing mainly the Civil Department but also Geological, Materials, and Electrical Engineering, travelled to GNCTR this year. The team consisted of 11 GNCTR veterans and 19 first-timers. Their innovative concrete and timber composite ski-style toboggan, weighing a total of 279 pounds, was comprised of over 70% post-consumer recycled materials. The Department of Civil Engineering congratulates the UBC Concrete Toboggan Team on a successful GNCTR!

Click here for a video recap of Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race 2015, from UBC-O.

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