Engineers Week ends with cardboard canoes


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Photo by Tian Li |

Students put their skills to the test at the fourth annual “Cardboard Canoe Race” Feb. 27 at the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center’s pool. TIAN LI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER


National Engineers Week was brought to a close with Rutgers’ Fourth Annual Cardboard Canoe race, held in the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center's pool Friday night.

For the event, multiple teams built and raced cardboard canoes across the recreational center pools. Though few canoes withstood the pool's water, many unique designs were showcased and the event presented an opportunity for engineers of different disciplines to coalesce.

Mansi Sanghvi, a School of Engineering senior, said she was enthused by the large turnout at this year’s event.

“In the past years we’ve had around eight teams competing, but this year we’ve had 24 teams sign up, so I’m very happy that they’re here,” Sanghvi said, who helped plan the event. “Participating in events such as these is a great way to build connections.”

The event allowed students to explore some real-world applications of principles typically found in engineering textbooks and lectures, said Jeffrey Rankin, assistant dean for the School of Engineering.

Cooperation and collective thinking were important skills for participants during the event, he said.

“One of the most important things that students learn is teamwork," Rankin said. “There’s always differences in opinion and approach, so students must work together to achieve the optimal result.”

Creativity and engineering aptitude enabled competitors to create aesthetically pleasing designs that obeyed key engineering principles, said Darshan Nandha, a sophomore in the School of Engineering.

Nandha said he participated last year, though this year he only watched the event.

“The event provides a real world trial in the engineering application,” he said. “Though most things we’ve learned in classes won’t work perfectly, because they’re meant for ideal situations, the activity allows students to draw from whatever intuitions they’ve developed through reading textbooks and attending lectures.”

Multiple awards were given to recognize the different aspects of the creative process during the night.

The Genius at Work Award was given to the "Navier Strokes" team for having the best name and costume. The team name references a famous set of equations that describe how certain fluids move.

Other awards included the "American Eagle" award for team spirit, the "Titanic" award for most spectacular capsize and the "Technical Knockout" award for most creative design.

School of Engineering alumni Johanna Dukakis and Bianca Skvirsky won the "Fast and the Curious" Award for fastest time. Their canoe successfully made it across the pool and back, a combined distance of 50 meters. They were considered the winners of the event.

“(Engineers) are often times people who love building things,” Nandha said. “Events such as these showcases how engineering goes beyond labs and lectures — it can be a lot of fun especially when you’re allowed to work with your hands.”


Tande Mungwa

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