Solid support for a concrete toboggan
It takes a village to build a concrete toboggan — or at least to help pay for one. And thanks to SAIT’s first crowdfunding campaign, a village made up of SAIT supporters donated nearly $8,300 to send a team of students to Ottawa for the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race, Canada’s largest engineering student competition.
Dubbed Ski Force One, the SAIT group was one of 21 teams from post-secondaries across Canada that designed, built and raced toboggans using a material usually reserved for construction. SAIT’s toboggan had one particularly innovative feature: bamboo poles were used for reinforcement instead of rebar. It reduced weight, added to the environmental sustainability of the structure — and garnered the SAIT team an award for best concrete reinforcement design. They also won for best steering design and, according to Team Fundraising Coordinator Kerri-Lyn Oullette, the team was proud that its toboggan recorded extremely fast times on the hill.
A great bonus
Oullette says that, while corporate sponsorships and support from SAIT’s Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS) department provided resources for the design and construction of the toboggan, it was the crowdsourcing campaign initiated by SAIT Alumni and Development that covered the high cost of flying all 22 team members to the race in late January.
“A plane ticket to Ottawa is a big expense for a student,” says Oullette. “The crowdfunding money allowed us to pay for everybody’s ticket. What a great bonus.”
Oullette says the four-day competition was a mix of social events and networking. She says it was an extremely valuable experience for everybody. “The five things that were huge for our team in preparing for the race were leadership, teamwork, project management, time management and communications. We had the chance to do some networking with people in industry and we received some great feedback about our designs and about the project report we presented to the industry judges. The weekend was an experience we’ll never forget.”
SAIT teams up with USEED
Miranda Diakiw, Manager of Annual Giving, says new projects are currently being identified for SAIT’s crowdfunding portal, which was created in partnership with education, technology and fundraising company USEED.
“The race was our first foray into crowdfunding and it was a great success,” Diakiw says. “In projects like this, students get involved in fundraising and gain the support of sponsors. They usually also go to their parents or use their own money to help pay for the trip. With online crowdfunding, we made it easy for their peers to contribute, plus we spread the word to an audience of SAIT alumni and other supporters. They were very generous.”
Written by Eric Rosenbaum