Engineers float cardboard prototypes to start new year…

As has become tradition for students and faculty of MECH 223, the return to school for January included a trip to the UBC Aquatic Centre for the annual cardboard boat design and prototype testing.

With more than a decade’s history ahead of them, the second year Engineering students were provided a strict allocation of building materials consisting of little more than cardboard, tape. With some rudimentary tools, solid engineering principles and an abundance of optimism, students today challenged themselves, each other and the forces of the universe to see what design could be boarded, paddled, navigated and ultimately remain afloat the longest on the water. (Note: For those skeptics in our midst, rest assured all activities were conducted in the shallow end and under the supervision of lifeguards.)

Dr. Agnes d’Entremont, Markus Fengler and Graham Hendra were pleased to see the creativity and commitment with which the students approached today’s challenge.  “This is meant to be a fun activity but it has pedagogical values (…). The students are working in teams and working on a design challenge and this puts them in a context that not like inside a classroom. We are given them a challenge that is (…) real.”

The theory and the practice comes together with very tangible results during this morning off-site.  Student Brian Ngyen shared that the activity “helps us understand what we learn in class, and its pretty fun to do as well. This is a great activity that helps us learn what we are doing and it is really useful to see the real-life applications.”