Teams use engineering skills to stay afloat in annual cardboard canoe race


canoeracesalex
Photo by Alexandra DeMatos |

Thirty-three teams had one hour to engineer a canoe out of cardboard, duct tape and a garbage bag. They then raced across the recreation center pool.


The sixth annual canoe races took place Feb. 24, bringing a lot of soaking cardboard and wet students.

The event is the cumulative event of Engineers Week, a week-long national celebration of engineering at Rutgers, said a first-year School of Engineering student and Engineers Week chair Priti Kantesaria.

The theme of this year’s event is “Dream Big,” she said.

“It’s about, you know, doing things bigger, doing things better. So in that theme, we’re doing our sixth annual Cardboard Canoe Races. Now, we increased our number of teams... We had 22 last year, it’s now 34 and I think we have 33 teams racing. So we really are increasing exponentially and we really wanted to create an event for parents for students, for alumni, for everyone who wants to come and be involved,” she said.

Teams of two have an hour to build a canoe that will float in water. All supplies for building the canoe are provided by the Engineering Governing Council (EGC), Kantesaria said.

She said that although building canoes may seem like a simple, fun activity, it is challenging. Students must apply their physics knowledge and apply methods and techniques they learned in class.

“The fact we’re able to get students to be involved with their coursework and to interact with that a little more is very important to us here,” she said.

In the spirit of Engineers Week's theme “Dream Big,” Kantesaria said they worked to make the event bigger and better than year’s past.

Instead of "NERD Olympics," Katesaria said they held a spirit day, where they gave out free stuff, food and students were encouraged to wear Rutgers gear. They also had engineering-themed activities for students to participate in, such as building bridges out of popsicle sticks.

“Things like spirit day, in the beginning, are created to gain momentum to get excited for the week, come to all the events and come to canoe races to finish off the week right,” she said.

School of Engineering senior and EGC President Christina Parry hopes students can understand engineering more through events like Engineers Week.

“Even though engineering is difficult sometimes, we always know how to have fun and really make the most of it, and utilizing our engineering skills and thinking outside the box, building cardboard canoes that can actually swim and float,” she said.

Categories students could win in included most creative canoe, the furthest distance a canoe traveled and the most epic sinking, Parry said.

“If you’re a student at the campus and you don’t participate (in E-week), I just hope they have a respect and understanding for what engineering does at Rutgers and how important we are and understand that we’re proud of who we are. (I hope) everyone understands our successes and our accomplishments and I think to have a week out of the year to celebrate that is a pretty low fee,” Kantesaria said.


Chloe Dopico

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