Annual Cardboard Boat Race Celebrates 16 Years

Published: September 25, 2017 | Author: Lexi Carter | Read Time: 2 minutes

engineering students cardboard university pool raceThe Department of Engineering & Technology at Southern Utah University is hosting the Annual Cardboard Boat Race during SUU’s Homecoming Week. All students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members are invited to build a boat and compete in this event, which will be held October 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the SUU pool.

A 16-year tradition, the Cardboard Boat Race has been held each semester for current students in engineering courses, the SUCCESS Academy, visiting high schoolers and community members. Dr. Scott Hansen, associate professor of engineering technology, was inspired by Central Michigan University’s boat race, held in late Nov. in a campus pond.

“Instead of freezing participants, I decided to utilize the campus pool,” said Hansen. “We started with seven boats competing and have had years with over 30 teams in the race. No matter how many teams we have, though, everyone always ends up in the water.”

Working with Dr. Richard Cozzens, associate professor of engineering technology, Hansen has developed this tradition to be both entertaining and educational. In the introductory engineering and technology courses, he teaches basic principles of buoyancy and flow/stress analyses to students, using the race as the ultimate out-of-the-classroom demonstration of these concepts.

“With constraints on size, time and material, the cardboard boat race is a great engineering problem,” said Cozzens. “It is similar to the problems experienced in the industry, you have limited time and limited resources yet you are expected to find a solution that meets all the requirements.  Another teaching aspect is in manufacturing. The students can come up with amazing designs on the computer, but have to get much more practical when actually assembling the boats.”

None of this would be possible without the strong campus connections the Engineering Department has with Blair Bentley, SUU aquatics manager. Prepping the pool each semester for the competition, the Cardboard Boat Race truly brings different worlds together on campus.

Cozzens will be holding cardboard boat building workshops for anyone who would like help building a boat, on Tuesday, Sept. 26 and Thursday, Sept. 28 from 6 - 7 p.m. Workshops will be held in the Engineering Building, room 106. Cardboard will be provided for the first 10 teams, but participants need to purchase their own duct tape (six rolls will suffice).  If needed, instructions will also be provided for a boat design that can be built in several hours.

Boats must carry two adult passengers and be made of ⅛ inch wafer type cardboard and duct tape only. At its largest, the boat must be 3 feet wide and 6 feet long. Winners will receive a 3D printed trophy, courtesy of the Engineering and Technology Department and claim to the title “2017 Cardboard Boat Race Champions”.

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