Engineering newbies compete in 13th annual Cardboard Boat Regatta

Posted on October 07, 2016 by Janika Carey

Using nothing but cardboard and duct tape, students in Bethany Brinkman’s Intro to Engineering Design class have spent the last three weeks building the ultimate boat. The six teams will race their constructions at noon on Saturday, Oct. 8, in the 13th Annual Engineering Cardboard Boat Regatta on Sweet Briar College’s Lower Lake.

Each team was allowed only six sheets of cardboard and 50 feet of duct tape to build a boat that weighs 20 pounds or less and carries two team members as they navigate a course on the lake.

“In addition to being a challenging academic endeavor, holding the regatta annually as a community event celebrates the spirit that makes Sweet Briar special,” said Hank Yochum, director of Sweet Briar’s Margaret Jones Wyllie ’45 Engineering Program.

For the uninitiated, cardboard boats can float surprisingly well — but some better than others, and that accounts for the excitement. Cardboard is, after all, an absorbent material. Some teams inevitably find themselves swimming rather than paddling to the finish line.

The participating teams are Galactic Council, Seahorse in ‘Yacht Style,’ Buoyancé , Daisy’s Ark , The Iceberg and Team Titanic .

Boats will be judged on quality and creativity of design, speed and buoyancy. An overall champion will also be named. The judges are engineering graduates Kaelyn Leake ’09, an assistant professor in the program, and Lindsay Davis ’13 and Nadirah Abdus-Sabur ’16.

The winners will be announced immediately following the race.