UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 04 | Feb.
Engineers' first place finish cast in concrete
A dedicated design team beats fierce competitors in the slide to build the best
by Bruce Mason staff writer
In an uphill battle and complete turnaround, a team of 14 UBC
engineering students clutched first place in the 27th annual Great Northern
Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR). Canada's largest civil
competition, which was recently staged in Kingston, Ont., attracted 28 teams
from universities across the country, the U.S. and Germany.
"UBC finished dead last in 2000 and we were determined to
our limited experience with snow and competing with teams comprised
of 50 students,"
says Brad Tangjerd, co-captain of UBC's team.
The team's coveted awards for Top Speed of the Day and Most Improved Team as
well as the overall trophy are proudly displayed in the cluttered clubs room of
the Civil and Mechanical Engineering Building.
"These amazing results were achieved by a team that really came together," says
co-captain Radya Rifaat. "Everyone worked as hard as they could right from the
start on everything from building concrete formwork to constructing a frame for
"We also showed a lot of spirit and co-operation while we were there," adds
Mana Arabi, the third co-captain, who says the thrill is not gone even though
the toboggan, dubbed Sam Jesse, is being shipped across the country by truck.
Fourth-year Civil Engineering students, Arabi, Rifaat and Tangjerd led the
team to reach the objective of the GNCTR competition -- to construct a
toboggan with a concrete bottom that weighed less than 135 kilograms and had
In addition to weight restrictions and safety requirements design criteria
included dimension limitations. Each toboggan also had to carry five students
twice down the course and brake effectively.
Reaching a top speed of 46 kilometres per hour was a peak experience but the
team was also judged on design, aesthetics, safety, theme, team spirit and
ingenuity, as well as race results.
Naming themselves "The Fugitives" in honor of the infamous
the team wore orange coveralls emblazoned with "UBC Pen" on
the back. They
also wore handcuffs and shackles and regularly broke into songs and
chants they composed for the occasion.
"The essence of engineering is to conceive, create and use objects and this
flagship competition is an excellent test of student skills," says
professor and head of the Civil Engineering Dept.
"It's a labour of love by volunteers who do it themselves, above and beyond
their courses," he adds. "We're delighted, not only with the
results, but also
with the enthusiasm and camaraderie they brought to a major competition."
The other team members are: fourth-year Civil Engineering students
Grayson Doyle, Brian Lee, Brad Parker, and Scott Wallace;
third-year Civil Engineering
students Chris Meisl and Richard Savage; third-year Mechanical
Mac Bell and Danielle Doran, and second-year Civil Engineering students Tom
Furst and Shabnam Hosseini.