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Great run

Engineering students tackle concrete toboggan design competition

Student Life

By Jackey Locke

A team from Memorial competed last month in the annual Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race 2023 in Kelowna, B.C.

The racing team stands next to their concrete toboggan on a snowy field with trees and a blue sky with white puffy clouds behind them.
Some of the the members of the Memorial Concrete Toboggan Racing team.
Photo: Submitted

The race is the oldest and largest student-run engineering competition in Canada, which challenges engineering students from across Canada to design, build and safely race toboggans with a running surface made entirely of concrete.

Competing teams are tasked with designing and building a toboggan with steering and braking that is capable of carrying five people down a hill.

The concrete skis, metal roll cage and steering and braking systems must all weigh less than 350 pounds.

“It almost makes me wish I wasn’t graduating!” — Billy Barnes

Toboggans are judged on design, level of ingenuity and innovation and how well it performs on race day.

Student Billy Barnes is co-lead for the team. While this was his last year on the team since he will be graduating this spring, he says he is excited for what the Memorial Concrete Toboggan Team will be able to accomplish in future competitions.

“This competition is mainly a mechanical design competition,” he said. “We were applauded by other teams for the function and quality of our mechanical systems. With continued involvement from mechanical students and support from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, I think this team could consistently start placing in the top five in the competition as soon as next year. It almost makes me wish I wasn’t graduating!”

The MUN Concrete Toboggan Team with their toboggan at the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR) 2023 in Kelowna, B.C. in a crowd shot on a snowy field with trees, blue sky and white clouds behind them. They are holding up a banner with different company names on it.
The Memorial Concrete Toboggan Team
Photo: Submitted

Team Memorial

The team from Memorial, which was comprised of mechanical and civil engineering students, placed well in several categories, including third overall in the main racing event, King of the Hill, out of 12 competing teams.

Other third-place finishes include the braking category (for having the third shortest stopping distance) and for ski reinforcements.

The team placed second in the aesthetically-pleasing toboggan competition; fifth out of 15 teams for its steering design; and had the fourth fastest overall run with a top speed of 45 kilometres per hour.

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