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‘Small but mighty’: Concordia comes up big at the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race

The 13-student crew achieves the top speed (over 45 km/hr!) and earns the Most Sustainable Team Award
February 26, 2019
By Bruna Guarino Moraes

Bruna Guarino Moraes: “Winning the Most Sustainable Team Award was particularly rewarding because it aligns so closely with Concordia’s values.” Bruna Guarino Moraes: “Winning the Most Sustainable Team Award was particularly rewarding because it aligns so closely with Concordia’s values.” | Photos courtesy of the Concordia Concrete Toboggan Team

Bruna Guarino Moraes is a civil engineering student and captain of the Concordia Concrete Toboggan Team. 

The Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR) is the largest student-run engineering competition in Canada. GNCTR 2019 was the 45th annual competition and brought together more than 450 engineering students from universities and technical institutions across North America.

Ten members of Concordia’s team travelled all the way to Edmonton for this year’s event, which took place from January 30 to February 3.

Race day was on February 2 and included three major events: the drag race, which requires passing through three sets of gates oriented in a straight line in the fastest time possible; the slalom, which requires passing through three sets of gates staggered laterally; and King of the Hill, which entails two teams racing down the hill in separate lanes — the first to cross the finish line advances to the next round.

Concordia’s team completed the drag race and the slalom successfully, reaching a top speed over 45 kilometres per hour, and we made it to the top four in the King of the Hill contest.

When the final results came in, we placed seventh out of 21 competing teams — compared to 17th out of 19 last year. Highlights from our performance include:

  • First in top speed (over 45 km/hr)
  • Second in best performing toboggan
  • Third in King of the Hill (tied with the University of Toronto)
  • First in steering performance (tied with 10 other teams)
  • Third in safety (tied with four other teams)

At the closing ceremonies, Concordia also received the #1 Most Sustainable Team Award. With only 10 members at the competition and 13 in total, we were a small squad compared to most of the others competing. Considering our size, experience and improvement from previous years, we are really happy with this result.

‘We surpassed our goal’

Our team size turned out to be one of the reasons we had such a great time this year. It not only allowed us to become closer but also gave us all the opportunity to participate in every aspect of the competition. Each one of us put in a lot of time and effort. Overall, seeing the nine months of hard work pay off was the best part.

Getting to interact with students from across the country and seeing our small but mighty spirit make an impression for Concordia at the competition was also an amazing experience.

We surpassed our goal of simply making it down the hill and had a great performance on race day, completing five runs without any major failures. Winning the Most Sustainable Team Award was particularly rewarding because it aligns so closely with Concordia’s and our own values.

We used recycled and repurposed materials on all our builds and assemblies. This included reusing metal from previous teams for the superstructure, braking and steering systems; using recycled concrete, recycled glass, manufactured sand, fly ash and silica fume in our concrete mix for our skis; using broken hockey sticks as our concrete reinforcement for our skis and using material from the Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse for our technical display and theme/spirit constructions.

Looking ahead

One of the biggest challenges of the competition was keeping the high energy and spirit going and accomplishing each of the days’ activities despite the long, intense hours and little sleep. Race day was particularly difficult because we had to assemble and race our toboggan in the balmy –35 C weather for close to 10 hours.

Despite this, most of the team is excited to compete again. We’re really hoping to expand next year with the addition of new members — all are welcome — and improve on our design (ahem, our braking system).

We plan to get to work as soon as possible and focus our efforts on specific categories that will help our scoring and awards, while also remaining true to our sustainable and innovative ideals.

We all had a blast and want to continue the tradition of representing Concordia, achieving even better results at GNCTR 2020 in Toronto.

Find out more about the Concordia Concrete Toboggan Team.


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