May 15, 2023

UCalgary takes 3rd place in Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race

Canadian engineering competition has drawn students and crowds every year since 1974
Members of UCalgary's Concrete Toboggan Team pose with Dean Bill Rosehart
Members of UCalgary's Concrete Toboggan Team pose with Dean Bill Rosehart, seated, centre. Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Have you ever thought about sliding down a snow-covered hill in a concrete toboggan with five of your friends? Well, that’s exactly what one University of Calgary team does every year.

UCalgary’s Concrete Toboggan Team is comprised of Schulich School of Engineering students who build a toboggan and compete against other universities across Canada. This prototype team — one of the few civil engineering-related teams on campus — ranked third overall in the 2023 Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race.

Team captain Tara Glisic, civil engineering student, is proud to see three years of work come together after the last two years were virtual.

“You all come together at the end of the day, and you enjoy competing against people from all across Canada and getting to know them and getting to see how people develop over the course of the team,” she says.

This year’s student-led event was held in January in Kelowna, B.C. at the Big White Ski Resort.

“These teams are so beyond invaluable,” says Glisic. “When you get immersed into one of these teams, it shows you what can be done in the real world and opportunities for the real world. It also gives you connections, meeting so many sponsors and judges at the competition itself and you see how this is applicable in the real world. It’s so supplemental to your learning.”

And UCalgary’s team was ready, competing in a drag race, a slalom, and King of the Hill competitions. The team placed third overall, having won first place in safety, concrete mix, steering, costumes and technical exhibition; second place in geometric profile and formwork, concrete reinforcement, theoretical toboggan, innovation, technical report, technical presentation and spirit; and finishing with the third-fastest run of the competition, against 14 other teams.

UCalgary's Concrete Toboggan Team at the race

UCalgary Concrete Toboggan Team

Open to all engineering disciplines, the competition challenges the creativity of engineering students. UCalgary’s team of 24 competing members and 40 general members built a toboggan following many rules, ensuring the toboggan doesn’t weigh more than 300 to 350 pounds and the entire sliding surface is made from concrete.

Glisic, who has been on the team for five years — two years as the “concrete executive” and one year as captain — says she loves the technical aspect of the team.

“It’s so cool to see all the different things you can do with concrete. You can do a lot of innovative stuff that furthers construction and our environmental footprint, so it’s cool to make something small-scale that can be used in the real world.”

Glisic says the team was really excited with their placement as it was the first competition for many on the team.

“It means quite a few things because Calgary is not always on the map so it’s really cool to be a part of that team that gets our name out there, is able to represent Schulich, able to represent what we can do based off of what we’re given. I think it shows the work ethic that we produce and the motivation that comes along with it.”

UCalgary's Concrete Toboggan Team

UCalgary's Concrete Toboggan Team

Glisic says she feels that her final year with the team has brought her full circle, noting how they won the same categories as her first year, with a few extras. She loves the team and says the people make all the difference.

“This team means a lot to me; it holds a special place in my heart,” says Glisic. “It’s incredible to see and have grown with it, and my executive team, a lot of them were rookie executives this year, so it was awesome to see how they took their roles and kind of just went with it.

“I feel that my knowledge of civil engineering and project management skills have grown exponentially after taking technical and leadership roles on this team.”

Watch the 2023 race recap and learn more about the race and the 2023 rankings.

If you are a future or current Schulich engineering student, the team would love to have you! Get involved.

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