Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race returns to UBCO and Big White for the first time since 2015

Racing concrete toboggans

Big White will be the venue for an unusual challenge this weekend.

Engineering students from universities across Canada will be competing in the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race.

It’s the first time UBC Okanagan has hosted the event since 2015.

There’s a lot more to a concrete toboggan than you might think.

First of all, it doesn’t have to be completely made of concrete. In fact, event co-chair Kyle Lessoway says the only part of the sled that must be concrete are the runners that contact the snow.

The toboggan must be designed and built by the student teams. It should weigh at least 350 pounds and carry five people down the mountain safely. They are equipped with steering and braking mechanisms, and have metal roll cages.

The competition isn’t just about building the machines and rocketing down the hill.

“There is a lot of business and logistics planning that goes on behind the scenes so the teams recruit students from other areas of study,” explains faculty supervisor Dr. Ahmed Rteil “The experience of participating in this event has helped students make connections with industry and round out their resumes which will potentially help them find employment after graduation.”

Lessoway adds that the event also allows competitors to practice their soft skills such as communicating with industry partners and members of the public who are not engineering experts.

Each of the creations will be judged in categories such as the overall design, the level of ingenuity and innovation and how well they perform on race day.

UBCO’s toboggan this year has a cow theme.

There are 15 competing teams, plus four non-competing teams, bringing nearly 400 participants to Kelowna this week.

There will be concrete testing at the UBCO campus throughout the week and a Tech-Ex display at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort on Friday. Race day is Saturday at Big White’s Tube Town.

The Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race began in 1975. It is the largest and longest-running engineering student competition in Canada.

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