Back in 2013, a couple friends and I got together and started Southern Illinoi's first ever Cardboard Yacht Club.
Each year, SIU hosts a cardboard boat race on the campus lake which we watched year to year. This year, however, we decided to join in the fun and leave our mark.
Jeff Rusin, a business major friend of mine approached my friends and I with an idea; to build the largest cardboard boat Southern Illinois had ever seen.
Our task was simple. Build a 15-foot boat that could support 10-12 passengers that would float using recycled cardboard.
We wanted this project to be friendly to both our wallets and the environment. We asked around campus and our Engineering Department was kind enough to grant us $500 for the project.
We took advantage of our local recycling facility and managed to get the majority of the cardboard needed for free. That said, we still needed to build a frame out of wood to stabilize the boat and that quickly ate into our budget.
One of the most amazing parts of this project was the fact that our team was so diverse. The man in charge of keeping our ship afloat is Business major Jeff Rusin.
The majority of our crew consisted of Engineers.
We had Civil Engineers, Computer Engineers, Mechanical Engineers all working hand in hand to get the job done.
Our schedule was easily one of the more challenging aspects to overcome. We had a mere three and a half weeks to construct our Cardboard Yacht.
With Finals week approaching, many members of our team were spending countless hours working on the ship's construction as well as their own studies.
One problem we did not really think about when starting this project was location. We were trying to build a 15ft boat but we had nowhere to put it.
We began working in a friend's garage which was maybe 12ft long and 8ft wide.
Thankfully, some of our team members were able to find some available room in one of the Engineering building's lab facilities.
This still proved to be a challenge as the boat quickly filled the dimensions of the room and we had a difficult time moving it around.
There were many points in our build where we would have to move our boat outdoors so we could apply sealant or glue. This is when we got a feel for how heavy the whole thing really was.
It took anywhere between 6-8 members of our team just to lift the thing off the ground. Then it was a matter of finding something suitable to stand it on while we applied sealants from the top.
On competition day, we met yet another challenge. How do we get this thing to the lake in one piece?
We ended up borrowing a trolley used by the Concrete Canoe team. Its wheels were pushed to their limits and nearly sheared off their axles as we loaded this several hundred pound ship onto the trolley.
We then towed the boat behind a Pickup Truck and drove it to the launch site. The launch site was by no means suited to accept such a big boat. For this reason,we pushed it half way around the campus lake before settling on a launch site.