SAIT’s Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR) team is preparing for its annual January competition and hoping for a second win in a row.
SAIT has won a few competitions in the past, including the very first year, and last year.
“I want to make sure this memory lasts for an entire lifetime,” Marcus De Souza, one of the team’s treasurers, said in an interview.
“We don’t want to be a team. We want to be a family. I want our result to be that when we get back, this will be a story that we talk about for a very long time.”
De Souza, in his second year of SAIT’s mechanical engineering technologies (MET) program, has been with the team since the beginning of the last academic year.
He said the club is a great way for students to gain experience in a real work environment, learn communication skills, and connect with people. Some students have even found jobs as a result of the club.
Julio Jacome, co-president of the club, is in his second year of SAIT’s MET program.
According to Jacome, the competition started in 1974 with just SAIT, NAIT, U of C, and U of A. Now, there are 21 institutions involved throughout Canada and the United States.
“When you see 500 engineering students in a competition, where all they want to do is interact with each other and share ideas, it definitely brings a bigger picture in front of you,” said Jacome.
The goal of each team is to plan, construct, and use a five-person toboggan with concrete running surfaces.
The competition this current year will be hosted by the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and runs from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2.
The first day includes opening ceremonies, an introduction to each team, speeches from sponsors, and a dance.
Day two is for interacting with the host university and seeing their toboggan on display.
The third day, all the schools’ toboggans will be on display at a rented facility, and the public and press have the chance to view them s and speak with the teams. This day is also for presentations to the judges about their designs.
On the final day, the teams take part in three individual competitions: fastest run, slalom race, and king of the hill (the six fastest teams compete against each other in brackets of two to determine the winner).
Every year, each team gets to decide on a theme for their sled and outfits. This year, SAIT’s theme is Christmas.
One challenge the team is facing this year is a change in requirements for the sled. Usually, the weight limit of the toboggan is 350 pounds. However, this year the number has dropped to just 300.
According to Jacome, the technical drawings were 90 per cent done as of the end of November, and over Christmas break, the team got busy manufacturing the toboggan.
Within the team, there are three groups of students: mechanical, concrete, and finances.
The mechanical group works on the braking system, suspension, and superstructure.
The concrete crew works on the profile for the skis and the mixture. This year they are trying to focus on keeping the skis environmentally friendly.
The finance team contacts sponsors, sets up events, and works on forms for grants and funding.
Currently, of the 28 students on the team, there are students in the following SAIT schools: construction, information and communications technologies, manufacturing and automation, and business.
Jacome’s biggest goal for the team is to get more people involved.
“I want to make it so everyone on campus knows what GNCTR is.”