Sweet Briar Engineering hosts fifth annual Cardboard Boat Regatta

| September 22, 2008

Sweet Briar students taking Engineering 110 – Designing our World: An Introduction to Engineering Design – will compete in the fifth annual Cardboard Boat Regatta at 12:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27 at the College’s Lower Lake.

Students in the class must propose, design, test and build buoyant vessels using no more than 20 pounds of cardboard and duct tape. On race day, two members from each team climb aboard and try to beat the others to the finish line – if they don’t sink first. The boats are judged on speed, buoyancy and overall design.

The Black Pearl demonstrates there’s more than one way to power a cardboard boat. Photo by Aaron Mahler.

One of the goals of the regatta is to teach students to work as a team through each step of the same design process that engineers use every day to create real-world solutions. The project is a challenging design problem for the students but one that inevitably results in a good time for spectators. Since 2005, the event has been held during Sweet Briar’s Homecoming weekend and it draws cheering crowds.

Historically, some of the boxy crafts slice through the figure-eight course with relative ease as others lumber to the finish. And while a few have proved nearly unsinkable, there’s usually at least one that meets a soggy end a few feet from the Boathouse dock.

All require a fair amount of woman power to complete the course. During the regatta this takes the form of furious rowing with cardboard paddles, but that says nothing of the 50 or so hours the teams will have put into designing, building and testing their vessels.

Five three- or four-person teams will compete this year. They are The Rubber Duct, My Summer Time Snowmobile, Pirates and Pearls, Ice3 and Sweet Vixtory.

The Sweet Briar community is encouraged to come out and cheer on their favorite teams. The general public also is welcome to attend the regatta. However, spectators should be aware that Boathouse Road will be closed to traffic, so plan to walk from the parking areas. If you’re interested in attending, please notify Sweet Briar’s alumnae office in advance by calling (434) 381-6131.

Category: Engineering Science