The University of Toronto Concrete Toboggan Team (UofTBog) is a Skule club that designs, builds, and races in the largest engineering competition in Canada. The goal is to create a fully functioning, five-passenger toboggan complete with mechanical braking and steering systems, that can maneuver and speed to the bottom of a mountain the fastest. The catch, however, is that the skis of the toboggan need to be composed entirely of concrete.
The 2016 team, composed of 30 engineering undergraduates, arrived back from the five-day competition in Ottawa on January 31. The competition was the culmination of 10 months of hard work that the team had devoted to developing their unique design.
The competition, which was inaugurated in 1972, is known as the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR); it brings together over 21 teams from across Canada, and one from the US. Attracting over 500 students, all of whom gathered at Edelweiss Valley in Wakefield, Quebec to put their sleds to the test.
U of T co-captains Matthew Frade, a fourth year industrial engineering student, and Ozan Coskun, a third year mechanical engineering student, said that their most memorable moment from the competition was watching their sled, The Black Pearl, complete its first run.
The UofTBog team have been strong contenders in the GNCTR every year since the ‘90s. This year the team took home both the most original award and most innovative honours for their carbon-fibre composed toboggan cage and pilot-themed design. The team also placed in the King of the Hill competition, taking home third place for the fastest toboggan.
If you were wondering how fast a concrete toboggan can go, or how teams bring their sleds back up the ski-hill, Matt and Ozan note that their safety board reviewed design reaches 50 km/h and further, and that they employ a snowmobile to lug the 275lb monster back up the hill.
When asked why they take part in this unique activity, Matt and Ozan note that like most engineers, their team takes great pride in a challenge, the innovation required, and the practical application of the skills they’ve gained through education.
The GNCTR has an entire component dedicated to showing the most school-spirit, one award the UofTBog team refuses to give up without a fight.
In typical Skule fashion, the high-spirited team engage themselves in the nature of the competition.
The five-day experience comes complete with a hotel stay, visits to the downtown core, exhibitions, and plenty of beverages. The event also gives the contributing students a chance to network with other engineers from various schools across the country, in addition to providing both recreation and rivalry.
Following the competition, UofTBog will begin preliminary recruitment in an effort to put together another winning team for 2017.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the years and majors of Matthew Frade and Ozan Coskun. The Varsity regrets the errors.