From Engineers to Helmsmen

Students in team “Das Boat” make way across Rose Pond with their makeshift paddles. Students are allowed to design their boat however they like as long as it is made with cardboard and tape.

Bystanders film and follow a student boat on their journey across the pond. The cardboard boat races gather a large audience to Rose Ponds every year.

Students in team “Boats N’ Bros” are stunned by the freezing temperatures as their boat begins to sink. The team had made it halfway across the pond before their boat broke apart.

Team “N$BE” drains their boat of excess water. Their boat was insufficient to compete in the second half of the competition.

High winds and freezing temperatures didn’t stop Central Michigan University engineering students from participating in one of CMU’s beloved Homecoming traditions. Hundreds gathered around Rose Ponds as Central Michigan University engineering students put their motor skills and creativity to the test for the annual cardboard boat race Oct. 5. The event is held every year by the Department of Engineering.

The cardboard boat races started in 1998 as a project for students in the engineering program. As the race gained popularity, the event now allows engineering student organizations on campus to take part in the competition. CMU students, alumni, and families gather at the ponds for the cardboard boat race every year as Homecoming tradition.

Engineering students participate in the cardboard boat race as a grade for the introductory engineering course. Students are given a $100 “budget” for supplies and one week to build their boats. As part of the assignment, students were tasked with calculating how deep their boat should be in the water. Student grades for the race are determined by how far each team makes it across both ponds and by how accurately students calculated the buoyancy of their boats.