Frequently Asked Questions

Why is this important?

This team serves as a place for students to work together on a large-scale project.  Joining the team is also a great way to meet other undergraduate students and get involved in the UBC community. Members can gain hands-on experience mixing, testing, and designing concrete as well as designing and digitally modelling the canoe’s hull.  Engineering students can take what they have been learning inside lectures towards innovation and solving challenges in the real world, while continuously learning.  In our case, the challenge is to design, construct, and race a 20ft long concrete canoe.

I thought concrete was heavy, how can it float?

Our boats float because of two factors: lightweight aggregates, and buoyancy.

One of the main ingredients in a concrete mix is the aggregate.  Aggregates are granular materials such as sand, gravel, and crushed stone.  By using very light aggregates we are able to make the canoe lighter than water! This means the canoe would float no matter what shape it is (we don’t have to make a new one every time it capsizes!).  However, what happens when people get inside it …?

A buoyant force acting on the canoe keeps its brave paddlers from sinking into the deep.  As long as the weight of water displaced by the hollow vessel is greater than that of it and its crew, nobody will be paying a visit to Davy Jones’ Locker.

Can non-engineers join?

Yes, the team is open to all UBC students! Essential non-engineering tasks include graphic design, writing, financing, paddling, and more. However, if you’re interested in helping design the canoe, we’d love to have you join our Mix or Hull team.

What sort of time commitment can I expect?

That all depends on you! We ask that all members attend our weekly meetings (approximately 2 hours) at the very least. But if you’re interested in getting more involved, you can also join the concrete testing team, the paddling team, or help the admins out with finance and the final design report. There are many opportunities to get involved with the team!

I’m SO interested, how can I get involved?

Every September, we host a UBC Imagine Day booth where you can talk to team leads and sign up to be a part of the team! If you missed Imagine Day, you can contact one of the team captains by emailing ubcconcretecanoe [at] gmail (dot) com

Can flour make concrete harder?

Perhaps? There is some evidence to suggest rice flour in the mortar of the Great Wall of China accounts for its longevity.  Maybe you’ll be the one to start a “Sticky Rice Canoe” design team….