CSCE Steel Bridge and Concrete Canoe Competitions 2018

Gabrielle Klemt - 3A Geological
Posted on: May 19, 2018

If you heard an unusual amount of French being spoken around campus from May 9 – 12, it wasn’t the heat getting to you! Waterloo had the honour of hosting this year’s Canadian Steel Bridge and Concrete Canoe competitions.

People from as far away as UBC and UNB flocked to our university to take part in the four-day conference. It kicked off on Wednesday night when teams arrived in E5 to get their registration packages and start the photo SCUNT.

Thursday morning bright and early contestants came to PAC to unload canoes and bridges and set up for a day of displays and presentations. The two competitions have different timelines. Steel Bridge had a brief morning display of their construction in PAC, and a chat with the judges about their reports before moving to formal presentations in the afternoon where the panel of judges listened to their design process and grilled them for 10 minutes about every detail.

Concrete canoe teams shocked me with their designs and displays. Each team has a theme and they stuck to it with every aspect of their display. Western, who won the best theme (Wild Wild Western) had a full trading post set up complete with mason jars full of the “ingredients” used to make their canoe. Most of you have probably seen The Phoenix canoe in the foyer of E2, painted bright blue. This year, because the races would take place at Laurel Creek Conservation Area, no paints were allowed on the outside of the boats. I expected a lot of grey canoes but I severely underestimated these teams! There was colour everywhere – coloured concrete that is! Teams had sculpted the insides of their boats with logos, and carved and filled in the names of their ships with different coloured concrete on the sides. It was amazing.

The next day was the build day for steel. Teams were marked on how long it took them to build, how many people they used, and even whether any nuts or bolts fell on the ground during the construction! One of the teams that surprised everyone was UNB who was at the competition for the first time and came in second for lightest bridge and third for oral presentations. Waterloo’s team came second for best design aesthetics, making us all proud!

At the same time that day, canoe teams were doing presentations. Each team had 5 minutes to talk about their design, their concrete mix, what measures they took to be sustainable in their construction, their testing process, and more. The judges then had 10 minutes to poke holes in all their hard work, McGill got a lot of questions over the cracks in their canoe – a result of complications taking the canoe off the mold and transportation to Waterloo. Dalhousie made the mistake of mentioning research someone was doing at their university of using oyster shells as an addition in cement – something they had not looked into yet but were considering for the future – and almost every judge had a question to ask about it! That night Steel Bridge had its banquet and awards ceremony, and afterwards all teams headed out to join the Pubcrawl and experience our scintillating city nightlife.

Saturday morning before the sun was up – and before we knew whether it would ever stop raining – it was out to Laurel Creek to set up the rest of the buoys and unload canoes. People kept themselves warm by yelling cheers and dancing around while their teammates entered the chilly lake to test whether their canoes would float when fully submerged in water. All of them passed the swamp test – even the 600lb canoe built by Dalhousie – meaning their vessels were sea-worthy and ready to start the races!

An underdog in the races was St. Clair College, the first college team to come to the competition and sporting a severe handicap due to their 4-month long strike in the fall term. But they came out ready to win and showed that they were a team to watch out for next year! Waterloo again made us proud, Waterloo Iceberg ploughed ahead in every race winning Best Spirit Award, Second in the Oral Presentations, and Second overall for the Ontario teams.

As the day went on the rain stopped and the sun broke through the clouds, lifting everyone’s spirits and brightening up the cardboard canoe races held at the end of the day as a way for other schools to join together to build and race something purely for the fun of it. That night’s banquet was a great success and teams stayed as late as they could at the banquet hall talking with the judges, the sponsors, and friends they had made over the last few days.

If you missed the fun this year and wish you hadn’t, never fear because the American Upstate New York Regional competitions are coming next April and there is always room for those who want to join in, lend a hand, or paddle a canoe!

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