Students head to Edmonton for sled race
Starting Jan. 27, SAIT’s team of concrete sled engineers will put their knowledge and abilities to the test in Edmonton for the 37th annual Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR).
Made up of 15 members from the Civil Engineering Technology club (CVT) and the SAIT League of Engineering Technology Students (SLETS), team ‘Voyageur Boggan’ will compete with engineering students across the country for the title of overall concrete sled champion.
The GNCTR began in 1974, and is now the oldest and largest engineering competition in Canada. SAIT was the overall champion in the first competition, but has not since been a GNCTR powerhouse.
Thanks to team Voyageur Boggan’s eager engineers, SAIT is once again in line for the title.
Since the clubs came together in November, they have planned, designed, built, and tested their concrete sled creation.
Most GNCTR teams start planning in September, and Voyageur Boggan’s late start led to difficulties finding support, said Steve Hildebrand, Voyageur Boggan member.
“There were a lot of instructors and program directors at first who didn’t think we would get it done in time.”
“The hardest part of the entire project has been finding a space to work,” said Hildebrand.
The sled was transported around to team members’ garages before the team finally acquired a shop during the second week of January.
Although it’s called a concrete toboggan race, the GNCTR requires that only the running surface of each sled must be made from concrete. With a weight limit of 300lb, the bulk of Voyageur Boggan’s sled is made up of aluminum tubing.
“Weighing in at 257lb, our sled may be one of the lightest sleds to compete this year,” said Doug Braden, co-captain of Voyageur Boggan alongside CVT president Morgan Boswell.
Their toboggan is named the Nonsuch, after the ship that sailed into Hudson Bay on the first trading voyage for the Hudson’s Bay Company. The toboggan also features a canoe within its design.
“The theme is an integral part,” said Braden. Teams are not only judged on the performance, design and appearance of their toboggan, but on costumes and team spirit as well.
“A lot of engineering competitions revolve around pageantry,” Braden said.
The entire team, including the five members that will race down the Edmonton Ski Club hill in the sled, will be wearing costumes based on the outfits of early voyageurs.
“Overall this has not been an easy project,” said Braden. “I’m excited to finally compete.”