CMU students attempt to stay afloat in Cardboard Boat Race

Students race across Rose Ponds for 15th annual Homecoming tradition
Homecoming Cardboard Boat Race
As Central Michigan University alumni from across the nation prepare to make a coveted return to Mount Pleasant for the 2012 CMU Homecoming celebration, current students are hard at work creating boats out of cardboard, caulk and duct tape for the 15th annual Cardboard Boat Race. More than 30 teams will brave the cold water for a race across the Rose Ponds October 20 as part of a Homecoming tradition that highlights teams of three individuals rowing their cardboard craft to the finish line without tipping over or sinking.
 
Assistant professor of mechanical engineering Brian DeJong says more than 200 individuals are participating in the competition this year. Each team is responsible for making their cardboard boat by spending no more than $100 for the materials needed. DeJong said the race, sponsored by the engineering department, has seen a great turnout for spectators every year.
 
“We always have alumni come up to watch the race and talk to us about how much fun they had when they were involved,” DeJong said. “It’s a great tradition that gets current engineering students to compete along with upperclassmen and alumni in front of a crowd.”
 
The race is part of an entry-level engineering course. More than 150 students in the course are split up into teams that construct the cardboard boats as part of a class project. Traverse City freshman Ryan Gimmell said that many of the students in his class have gone for a more stable approach to the boat’s design to try and stay afloat, but his team has decided to take the riskier choice to sacrifice stability for speed.
 
“I think we’ll make it across,” Gimmell said. “Our boat has a big risk of sinking, but if we manage to stay above the water, we’re going to be the first ones across the pond.”
 
Gimmell said he was not familiar with the boat race before taking the class, but now he’s excited for the chance to participate in a Homecoming tradition.
 
“A lot of people come out to watch the races,” Gimmell said. “Knowing we’ll have an audience rooting us on makes it more fun. If we make it across, that’ll be a great feeling.”
 
DeJong said the project is designed to teach the fundamentals of engineering while giving students an understanding of engineering theory. He hopes they will enjoy the competition.
 
“It’s a fun experience they can look back on to remember the camaraderie they had with their classmates throughout the project,” DeJong said.
 
For information on additional Homecoming events October 20, click here.

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