It’s bobsled time

SAIT engineers hit the track

From Feb. 8-12, 2017, colleges and universities from around the country will gather in Winnipeg, Man., to participate in the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR). 

The competition is an engineering challenge, where students create teams to represent their schools, and then are tasked with designing a working sled with multiple mechanical parts, all of which must pass code and be safe before competing.

Landen Brockmann, a second-year mechanical engineering student at SAIT, will be participating in the GNCTR this year for his second time. This year, as head of the roll cage and frame. 

“Basically it takes us until the end of December to design and build a full sled with skis,” said Brockmann. 

“You can think of it as a bobsled, but it’s a lot heavier. It has to have a full metal roll cage that has to pass code, a braking system, a steering system and we are also putting suspension on, which isn’t required, but it’s starting to be the norm [in the competition].”

Brockmann is also this year’s “spirit captain,” an important aspect to the challenge that promotes friendly competition between the different schools, and encourages a little fun along the way. 

“Spirit is an important part,” said Brockmann. 

“You have 500 kids there, you want everyone to have a good time.” 

The spirit captain’s main role is to be friendly towards the other teams, while pumping up their own team and creating cheers, costumes and more.

“This year our theme is Super Smash-Boggan,” added Brockmann. 

“So we are all going to dress up as retro Nintendo characters. Me and the other co-leader are Princess Peach and Daisy.”

Despite a complete brake failure during last year’s competition, the SAIT team had a largely successful run, finishing ninth overall out of 21 teams, and winning multiple awards.

Parker Gavey, a third-year construction project management student at SAIT, has been a part of the GNCTR club for three years now, and this year he is one of the presidents. 

“[Last year] we won best concrete reinforcement, best steering design, and best drink,” said Gavey. 

The ‘best drink’ was a spirit competition, which the SAIT team won with a mouldy apple cider and apple-pie moonshine combination.

The club meets once a week on Mondays for general discussions, and there are additional meetings for the concrete, superstructure and tech display units of the aggregate. 

“We are way ahead of what we’ve done every other year,” said Gavey. 

“By this time last year we were still in the conceptual stages, now we have almost final designs.” 

Overall, the team feels good about this year’s challenge, with plenty of time left to fine-tune the toboggan.

The hope, said Brockmann, “is to do better than last year, top three being the ultimate goal.” 

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