First of I would just like to give a big thank you to UBC and all our sponsors. Without their yearly support we would not have been able to compete in the competition. This year with the competition being held in Ottawa, we had to rely on them more them ever, and they contributed in a big way.
As the leader of the team this year I was surrounded by the best group of people anyone could ask for. The time that everyone spent to ensure that our toboggan was a good as it could be was unbelievable, and without them we would not have been able to succeed the way we did. During the technical exhibition on the third day of the competition we had a chance to look at the sleds from all of the other schools, and as great as they all were, we thought we had given ourselves a good chance to do well overall, maybe even meeting our goal of being in the top five teams.
The morning of the race was without any issues and we were the first team down the hill, if only I could say that! There were a number of unexpected modifications that we had to make, and they were completed just in time for us to be the last team to compete in the slalom run, the first race of the day. At this point a total of 7 or 8 teams had already flipped or crashed, significantly higher than previous years. Watching from the top was extremely stressful, but once the sled was safety down the hill, and had navigated the markers flawlessly, we were all a bit more relaxed. We followed up the slalom with the drag race, where we were the seventh fastest team.
In the first round of the King of the Hill we narrowly beat out Western, the eventual overall competition winners, and then cruised through the second race against the host U of O. In the semifinals we were paired up with the fastest team on the day, and eventual winners of the King of the Hill, Lawrence Tech. We gave them a run for their money, but while it was the closest race they had on the day, they were just that much faster. At the end of the run there was more than a little excitement, as when the brakes were deployed the sled had turned sideways, causing the sled to do a full roll. Thankfully everyone escaped without any damage, and it gave us some important things to build on in future years.
At the presentation dinner we had an opportunity to hear how each of the teams did, and which prizes the universities would take home. After not hearing our name in the first 22 awards, including for third place, and only having the second and first overall awards left, we thought we would unfortunately walk away once again without anything to take home. Once the organizing committee announced “University of British Columbia” for the second place award, our whole team was shocked by the result, and at this point thoroughly expected a mistake to have been made. After it had sunk in for a few seconds, our whole team jumped up to collect the award. As the weekend had been without much sleep, and because of the amount of excitement of taking second place, a number of our team members were in tears (maybe even including myself).
Winning second place overall is a tremendous achievement for the team, and shows how much time and effort everyone put in throughout the year. After a number of poor results, as a team last year we were able to improve to the middle of the pack, and this year made it one step closer to the long-term goal of UBC taking home first overall with our finish. Once again I would like to say thank you to all our sponsors, and everyone that helped us out along the way, hopefully we can keep building upon our positive results!
Many thanks to the UBC Civil Department who wrote an exciting recap of our adventures at the 2015 competition in Kelowna!
“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! ”