Western Herald – WMU students compete in cardboard boat race

WMU students compete in cardboard boat race

Aaron Dean (foreground), Eric Nederhoed and Jake Adams racing their cardboard boats. Aaron LaRoy/Western Herald.


Aaron LaRoy
Staff Reporter
Time at Western Michigan University isn’t spent completely in a classroom or studying.  Students often have events that are fun, exciting, and out of the ordinary.
One of these events took place on Saturday afternoon.  Ten students met inside Bigelow Hall to design and construct their own boats out of cardboard.   After building them, they would transport the ships to Gabel Natatorium to compete in a race across the pool.  Once the race was over, they planned to try to attack eachother and be the last boat floating.
Three teams were made – one of the resident assistants of Bigelow, one of students that lived on floor 1B of Bigelow, and another made up of WMU students studying to become engineers.
The teams could only use cardboard and duct tape to make their boats.  They had a little over an hour to complete their craft.  When time was up, each team was excited about what they had made.
Eric Nederhoed, Frank Calabro and Jake Adams comprised the team of the resident assistants.  Their boat was made by interlocking several pieces of cardboard for the bottom and building sides.  After completing their box-like shape, they added a point to the front to cut through the water.
The students from 1B, Matt Griffith, Evan Dalken, John Stanley and Austin Godfrey, made a boat from three pieces of cardboard that looked like canoes turned up-side-down.  They added a cardboard sheet on top of those pieces for a place to sit.  After finishing their basic design, the team added a “ram” on the front to aid in the attack portion of the competition.
The third team was made up of engineering students, Aaron Dean, Tyler Wall and Ryan Mabie.  Their design was a flat bottom, angled front and two rudders in back.
When the building time was over, the boats were loaded into a trailer and hauled across campus to the pool.
Each team had to have at least two participants in their boat to race the length of the pool and back.  The teams placed their boats in the water and the chosen competitors got in them.
Team 1B’s boat sank immediately, which caused everyone to laugh.  It was unable to be recovered in usable condition. The boat of the engineering students sank soon after, but they rescued it, dumped the water out and raced with only one team member in it.  The RA’s boat proved to be seaworthy with both men in it.
Nederhoed and Adams raced for the RA’s, while Aaron Dean took the helm for the engineers.  The RA’s raced to an easy victory since Dean began to sink with his ship again.  He barely made it to the finish before the boat sank a second time.
Nederhoed and Adams won the boat battle as well since the engineer’s boat was quite soggy by that time.
Just for fun, they decided to see how many guys it would take to sink the RA’s boat.  Four were in and the boat was steady.  Nederhoed was fifth, and after he got in, the boat slowly dipped under the surface of the water and sank.
Nederhoed said that he had tried to set up a competition for last year, but it didn’t work out.  It’s something he and others want to make a tradition out of, though.
“We’re going to try to do it every year, ” Calabro said.
So, there will probably be another opportunity to do this again in the future if students have enough interest.
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