After a year that featured a virtual competition, as a result of the pandemic, the UBC Okanagan Concrete Toboggan team is ready to put their best sled forward at the 2022 event. While the sled and team are ready to compete, the latest wave of the pandemic has moved the competition online once again.
The Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR) is the largest and longest running undergraduate Engineering Competition in Canada. The 2022 event is the 48th anniversary of the competition. This year, competitors from across North America will converge virtually on Calgary February 2-5 to participate in a variety of competitive and social activities. GNCTR is a multidisciplinary challenge, where teams must construct a toboggan that can safely hold five riders with concrete running surfaces, fully functional steering and braking systems, a completely enclosed roll cage, and weigh less than 350lbs.
“Our team has done well in the past including at last year’s virtual competition where we had the lead steering mechanism and frame design,” says Club President Stephanie Mattson, who is in her fifth-year of Civil Engineering. “Two years ago in Toronto, we placed fourth out of twenty-five teams, and we took top spot in overall spirit three years ago.”
Members of the UBCO GNCTR include engineering students from all four programs (Civil, Electrical, Manufacturing, and Mechanical), but also include students from all other faculties as well. This year, the team includes two students from Management and an Arts student as well.
The team has been hard at work designing, testing and building the sled that will be compete in Calgary. After each competition, the club selects a new design team who spend the summer working out construction details. Once students return to campus in September, additional student members begin testing and assembling the sled within the Machine Shop and High-Head lab. By the end of January, the competition-ready sled is ready to be shipped to the event. Unfortunately, this year’s in-person competition was moved online due to the pandemic.
“What you end up learning as a member of concrete toboggan goes well-beyond the scope of what you learn in classes especially the hands-on opportunities; and the social component isn’t too bad either,” jokes fourth-year Electrical Engineering student Sean Worthington, the 2021/22 UBCO GNCTR Vice-President.
The competition is not all technical, it also has a strong social component as well. “This year, we had planned to be going as cows in ‘cowtown’,” explains Mattson. The judged competition is mainly based on technical and design components, but spirit awards are also handed out.
UBC Okanagan will host the 2023 GNCTR Competition at Big White next February. The campus last hosted the event in 2015. The 2023 organizing committee includes members of this year’s team, past GNCTR presidents, and alumni.
According to Mattson, the focus right now is on the next few weeks leading up to this year’s competition. “We are so excited for the opportunity to network and compete with students from across the country, and maybe pick up a trophy along the way.”
For more information about UBCO GNCTR visit https://ubcognctr.wordpress.com/ or follow them on Instagram @ ubcognctr