New Brunswick

You sank my Craftsman-Ship: Cardboard boats battle for pool supremacy

The phrase "whatever floats your boat" took on new meaning at the University of New Brunswick on Tuesday afternoon, where engineering students achieved the near-impossible feat of floating boats made of cardboard and duct tape.

Building seaworthy crafts out of not-so-seaworthy materials

'Seafaring' students set sail at the University of New Brunswick this afternoon. 1:08

The phrase "whatever floats your boat" took on new meaning at the University of New Brunswick on Tuesday afternoon, where engineering students achieved the near-impossible feat of floating boats made of cardboard and duct tape.

As a test of their ingenuity and teamwork, engineering students finished their semester by building seaworthy crafts out of the not-so-seaworthy materials.

"Unfortunately, ours collapsed right before the end," said second-year engineering student Taylor Quinlan. "So we were close." 

Second-year engineering student Taylor Quinlan was a part of the design crew for "The Bluenose III," which sadly did not make the finish line. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Professors captained their students' creations across the Lady Beaverbrook pool at the university's Fredericton campus as a part of a competitive relay race. 

While some vessels held up admirably, other suffered from balancing issues, structural defects, and less-than-adequate paddles that contributed to their demise. 

Despite the boats' comical appearances, Quinlan says there's a lot of design that goes into making them durable enough to keep several hundred pounds afloat, using only a paper product as construction material.

"First we tested the cardboard to see how much it could withstand. And we also built a prototype. And tested it in the flume in the engineering building." 

Engineering professors Bruce Wilson and Katy Haralampides captained the boats created by their students. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

With names like "Seal Team 6" and "Bluenose III" none of the boats escaped a watery grave at the end of the competition, as professors stress tested them all to their limits. But one notable entry did manage to hold four adults — before raucous behaviour sealed its fate. 

"They were structurally – for the most part – okay," said Katy Haralampides, a professor in civil engineering at UNB. "Overall they floated the whole way." 

In the end, all cardboard creations met a watery fate. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

"Teamwork skills, communication skills, analyzing, buoyancy calculations, stress and bending-moment calculations," listed Haralampides from the pool. "It's also interactive and a lot of fun." 

About the Author

Shane Fowler

Reporter

Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.

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