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Photo essay: Engineers race cardboard train against ‘Titanic’

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Photo essay: Engineers race cardboard train against ‘Titanic’

A team of students from the College of Engineering raced against a cardboard Titanic Saturday, April 20 for the Second Mid-Missouri Cardboard Regatta 
Float Your Boat for the Food Bank, sponsored by the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

Civil engineering majors Paige Martz and Levi Knipmeyer, along with mechanical engineering major Kevin Coleman raced a Santa Fe railroad-themed boat made of cardboard and duct tape. See how they did below.


A board with names on it.

The team name for the engineering students this year was Choo Choo Train. They designed their boat after the 1960 Electro-Motive Diesel Streamliner named Santa Fe.

A lake with a crowd visible in the background.

The second annual cardboard regatta race took place at Bass Pro Lake after increased popularity doubled the number of boats entered in the race from 20 boats last year, to 46. The new location also allowed for a longer, more competitive route.

A man buckles his life vest on.

Kevin Coleman, a mechanical engineering student, put on a life vest right before their team’s heat. He was one of the three members of the team who rode in their cardboard vessel.

A woman and a man wearing life vests look at each other and are smiling.

Paige Martz, a civil engineering student, and Levi Knipmeyer, also a civil engineering student, were also on board the Santa Fe.

Two men and one woman talking.

Next year the team plans to make their boat a lot larger so it can fit more people into it. “The more people you have in the boat (paddling) the faster you go,” said team captain Levi Knipmeyer.

A man and woman carry their cardboard-constructed boat that looks like a train.

The Santa Fe took five and half hours to construct, using only cardboard, duct tape, paint, and construction adhesive. All the materials and entry fee cost the team around $100, and they’ll be looking for alternative financing options for the fall.

A woman and two men stand on a dock.

Judges make their marks at the halfway point of the race on the judging dock.

Two men are in one cardboard boat in the foreground paddling ahead of two men and a woman in another cardboard boat in the background.

Choo Choo Train struggled with the Titanic in the beginning of the race, but were surpassed about a quarter of the way into the route.

Two men and one woman paddle in the water in their cardboard boat.

While chugging along, at first, the boat began to lose steam.

The back of the cardboard boat begins to sink send the back occupant — a man — into the water.

At almost the halfway mark in the race, the Santa Fe began to sink starting in the back and making its way to the front, swallowing Kevin Coleman last.

The cardboard boat's back end sinks further into the water, now sending the man and the middle occupant — a woman — into the water.

The Santa Fe’s “bow” rises out of the water before all three occupants slide into the water.

A pair of water-soaked legs.

The team climbed to the judging dock as their boat crumpled and sank.

A close-up of a woman's hands holding a clip board.

The fully-submerged cardboard boat floating at the water's surface.

Team captain Levi Knipmeyer lost one of his sandals in the water, but the Santa Fe safeguarded it. Even though team Choo Choo Train lost in the time category against the Titanic, they still won the Titantic Prize for Best Sinking.

The scraps of water-logged cardboard in a large trash bin.

All boats usually end up in the dumpsters immediately after the race. Most don’t enter seeking glory, as team member Josh Garton said, “We like building things, and this seemed like a fun quirky project that wouldn’t take an entire semester of commitment like a competition team would. And it supports charity.” This year the race raised over $17,000 for the Central Missouri Food Bank, making them the biggest winner of the day.


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