CTR Home Internal  Relations and Communications Home About CTR Publication Schedule CTR Archives

October 24, 2002 Concrete toboggan draws on engineers' ingenuity



In the concrete toboggan

Starting at the left: Daniel Kassis, Sharon Nelson, Laureano Becerra, Marie Dugue, Alexandru Tatar and Ahila Pathmanathan. Not available for the photo was team member Raymond Chu.

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

by Shannon Smith Houle

How do you fit seven Concordia engineering students in a boot? With a lot of hard work and a very big boot.

Ahila Pathmanathan is one of seven civil engineering students who are building a giant boot-shaped toboggan for this year’s Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race. “I heard about it from the CSCE, the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering,” she explained.

Pathmanathan recruited six of her Concordia classmates to form a team in the competition. They are Laureano Beccerra, Raymond Chu, Marie Dugue, Daniel Kasis, Sharon Nelson and Alexandru Tatar. It’s the first time Concordia has competed in the event in four years.

The race is an annual event. Teams of students from around the world build a toboggan using concrete and other materials. They have to race the toboggan with five engineering students inside and can win prizes for speed, performance and design. It’s a fun way to put their civil engineering skills to work.

“It’s an interesting idea, and we learn a lot doing this,” said Laureano Beccerra.
The Concordia team has been working on their toboggan since December. Each student has put in hundreds of hours over the holidays, working up to eight hours each day over the past four weeks.

“We finished mid-terms, and then we started,” said Daniel Kassis.

If they win, they plan to donate any prize money to the Concordia fundraising walkathon, the Shuffle. The Shuffle raises thousands of dollars each year for student scholarships.

In honour of their Shuffle pledge, the students decided to build their toboggan in the shape of a giant boot. The frame is made from steel, donated by Acier Ouellette.

The base will be made of concrete, and the students are keeping the outer materials a secret for now.

“Every day we come in and there is a new metamorphosis,” Pathmanathan said.
However, the team may never get to Edmonton, where this year’s race will be held.

They still don’t have the money to get there, and the four-day long competition begins on Jan. 29.
“Really, what we need are tickets for six people to go, and lodgings for five nights, and the transportation of the boot, which has to be crated and sent,” Sharon Nelson explained.

The boot has to be shipped by January 20 to make it to Edmonton on time for the competition.
This week the boot will make its first public appearance on the mezzanine of the Hall Building.

The engineering students hope that when they see the giant boot, university groups and private businesses will donate the $5,000 they need in order to participate in the competition.

“We’ll be in the mezzanine this week to show what we’re doing,” Pathmanathan said, adding, “It’s like panhandling indoors.” Panhandling with a giant boot instead of a hat.