Should Be a Design School Exercise: Every Year Engineering Students Design, Build and Race Canoes Made from Concrete

Here’s an annual design/build competition for engineering students that design schools could take a cue from. Each year the American Society of Civil Engineers hosts a canoe race, with a catch: Students have to design and build the canoes out of concrete.

While the competition is hosted in America, colleges and universities from as far away as China can enter to compete. Student teams create design drawings like the one shown below, but they must stay within predetermined design and materials parameters.

Entering teams are free to develop their own secret blend of concrete herbs and spices.

Every part of their build process must be meticulously documented.

Teams must not only design and build the canoes, but of course must figure out how to crate and ship them to the competition safely.

Obviously a thin-walled design is desirable if one hopes to win any of the races…

…but go too thin, and disaster awaits.

Engineers aren’t dummies, and that goes for the ones holding the competition. Prior to racing each team must pass the “swamp test,” where they must completely flood the interior of their canoe, forcibly submerge it and demonstrate that it will still float upwards to break the surface of the water.

The College of New Jersey’s team passing the swamp test.

Then it’s off to the races.

This year’s overall winner was the team from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. You can see a full list of winners, along with their design papers, here.

Lastly, here’s a video shot at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, describing what an entering team has to face, why they do it and what they get out of it.

Design educators among you: Can you think of a similar national/international competition with similar characteristics that could be geared towards industrial design students?


Source: core77

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