Creativity makes waves at second annual Polytechnic Boat Race

A row of handcrafted sea vessels lined the side of the Sun Devil Fitness Center at the Polytechnic campus pool as students and faculty prepared for a night of competition and sinking ships Thursday for the second annual Boat Race.

The boats were specifically designed to make their way across the pool with the goal of completing two full laps. Students had a set amount of time to complete their boats and could use only cardboard, duct tape, liquid nails and water-based paint as materials for the project.

The finished ship needed to comfortably hold three members of the team without sinking.



Students nominated Cynthia Villa, an academic adviser at the College of Technology and Innovation at the Polytechnic campus, as a judge.

“I see it as a great way not only to get involved but a way of getting out there and having a little fun on campus,” she said.

Five judges who ranged from academic advisers to student government members watched over the races with lively commentary. They also gave out other fun awards such as best-looking boat and the most spectacular sink.

Megan Workmon, the student engagement specialist at Poly, helped organize the event and said the race's success came from its ability to develop a sense of community on campus.

“It gives a lot of our students in technology, engineering and design a chance to apply their academic studies to a fun social event,” she said.

Team members, however, were not only engineering and design majors. They included majors like business and chemistry.

Applied biological sciences sophomore Alex Prassas, part of the Barrett Buccaneers team, said the group had a lot of success last year, and that's why members decided to participate again.

“At Poly, we have a lot of mixed majors,” she said.“Certainly, we have some engineers on the team.That helps.But I’m a biology major.”

The Barrett Buccaneers, composed of Prassas and engineering majors Kyle Reilly, Andrew Heiman and Cody Van Cleve, ended up taking home the Polytechnic championship with a final time of 2 minutes and 22 seconds. They will now move on to face the winners of the other ASU campuses to compete for a more prestigious University title in April.

The best time of the night went to the Sandwich Slayers team. They completed the race in 1 minute and 53 seconds, but their boat fell apart in the second round.

The Barrett Buccaneers’ boat featured a pirate image. This included a sail in the middle of the ship as well as a skeleton dummy at the front.

“What a lot of boats forget is that you can have a really good structure, but you need the center to be really strong, because the cardboard will soften up,” Prassas said.

Her strategy worked well for her and the rest of the team, as they will now be preparing for more competition later this year.

Prassas said she doesn’t know anything about the teams from other campuses, but said she “can’t wait to see what they have planned.”

The next Boat Race will take place on the Tempe campus sometime in April.

Reach the reporter at or follow him on Twitter @mister_jgold

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