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Home About SAIT News & Events SAIT Concrete Toboggan team snags second place

SAIT Concrete Toboggan team snags second place

Update Jan. 28, 2015:

Congratulations to SAIT's Great Northern Concrete Tobogganing Race team for placing second in the sled race and winning best steering design at the 2015 competition in Kelowna!

Ski and snowboard enthusiasts aren't the only ones praying for powder this January — SAIT's Great Northern Concrete Tobogganing team also wants to see more of the white stuff.

The student team is putting the final touches on its weighty sled in preparation for the annual GNCTR event — the oldest and largest engineering competition in the country, attracting more than 450 students from over 20 post-secondary institutions.

A whopping 23 SAIT students will be heading to this year's event, hosted by the University of British Colombia, taking place Jan. 21 to 25 in Kelowna. Leading the team are Civil Engineering Technology students Kriztian Kispal, Nicole Kolskog and Ting-Wei Lin.

SAIT students have participated in GNCTR since its inaugural year in 1975. They have won the competition twice – in 1975 and 1986. The threesome participated in the competition last year, finishing middle of the pack overall, but snagging third place for the CIRCA award, presented to the team with the best sustainable use of fly-ash and concrete mix, which makes up the running surface of the sled. The students are confident they'll improve on those standings this year.

"Placing third next to Queens University and the University of Alberta just speaks to what SAIT provides and some of the skills we as students can bring to the table," says Kolskog. "We showed them all we're innovative."

"This year's mix design is 100 times better. I've worked on it quite a lot," adds Kispal.

A solid amount of work

Each GNCTR team can spend up to one year constructing a toboggan that must weigh less than 136 kilograms, have a working brake and steering system, a roll bar, and feature running surfaces made of concrete. Five riders then race their toboggan twice down a snowy slope, aiming to achieve the fastest time and best steering and breaking performance.

All that takes a considerable amount of work, and SAIT's team has been putting in the extra hours to ensure they do well. Between coordinating, prototyping and building the sled, the students have put in more than 300 hours above and beyond their classes, assignments and exams.

"Since the semester started, I've pretty much lived in the concrete lab," confesses Kispal. "It's a helluva lot of work."

In addition to race performance, teams are also judged on their toboggan design, technical report and presentation and team spirit.

The 2015 SAIT Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Team

The 2015 SAIT Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Team

Creating more campus connections

Students in all SAIT programs are welcome to join the team. This year, students from the Mechanical Engineering Technology and Architectural Technologies programs joined the Civil Engineering students, offering fresh ideas and helping to distribute the heavy workload.

"I'd never have thought I could do something like this," says Kispal. "To organize 30 people to fabricate the sled, the skis, prepare the costumes...This is probably the best thing I've done at SAIT."

SAIT's Applied Research and Innovation Services' (ARIS) Sports and Wellness Engineering Technologies team advised the students on design and assisted with sled construction.

"We worked with ARIS to trim the fat on our initial design and on the manufacturing. Our consultation with FABLab researchers Jim Nikkel, Brian Dorn and Mike Shewchuk was essential. After they were done with our design, it was tight," says Colin France, MET student and member of the SAIT GNCTR team.

The team was awarded up to $8,000 in funding by the '88 Legacy Committee to assist with the construction of their concrete toboggan. Impressed by the team's previous successes, Lafarge also offered to provide the team with an additional $5,000.

To learn more, visit gnctr2015.com/wp or follow team SAIT on Twitter @SAITGNCTR.

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