The Celebrating Students series provides a snapshot of McGill Mastercard Student Sponsorship recipients. The Student Sponsorship Program was launched in 1997 to give students who are involved with special campus groups or clubs an opportunity to apply for additional funding for projects carried out by their groups.
Today, the Alumni Association features The McGill Concrete Canoe Design Team:
The series of questions usually come in the same order. What? How?
Okay, but… why?
At this point, my answers are fairly straightforward.
The McGill Concrete Canoe Design Team, an extracurricular civil engineering team, works throughout the academic year to build a canoe out of concrete for competition. The canoe, over twenty feet in length, is paddled by two to four racers in regional meets. The team is responsible for everything from the structural analysis, design, concrete mix, testing, casting, curing, painting and paddling.
How? Making concrete is similar to making bread. The water, cement and aggregates are ingredients to play with and a variety of admixtures and mixing times affect workability, hardening time, and water requirements. To make a boat that floats you replace sand and rock as the aggregate with light-weight, low-density material. This calls for resourcefulness; past teams have even used hazelnut shells in their design! The displacement of water doesn’t help much since the boat must pass a submerged test!
By now people are wondering why the heck we are bothering to construct a functional watercraft with material that should intuitively sink. Civil engineers are often faced with material and time constraints in their professional practice.
While we learn this in classes, the curriculum doesn’t always have the flexibility to test the limits of our creativity, workmanship, collaborative spirit and project management skills. Design teams utilize classroom knowledge in an applied manner. We’d like to thank the McGill Alumni Association among other sponsors for keeping the team afloat!
Funds generated through the use of the McGill Mastercard support these types of student initiatives. To get yours, click here.