PCL Hits the Hill for the 2015 Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race

For the second consecutive year, PCL supported future construction professionals as the title sponsor of the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR) held in Kelowna, British Columbia, from January 21 to 25, 2015.

Students from across Canada battled it out at the
2015 Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race.

Here’s just one of the toboggans that was designed,
built, and raced by a group of students.

Marking the 41st anniversary of the annual event, the 2015 GNCTR brought together more than 400 engineering students from across North America to design, build, and race toboggans laden with five teammates each, down a giant slalom in a “king of the hill” style race.
The GNCTR contributes to the career development of future engineers and potential PCL employees,” said Caitlin Peacock, PCL British Columbia district human resources and professional development manager. “PCL supports events like this because they require participants to challenge the process and come up with innovative new ideas, both attributes we look for in potential PCL employees.”

What’s the Reward 

PCL sees the event as a great opportunity to meet and network with participants on an individual level to fill our own intern positions as well as to build relationships with participating post secondary institutions. 
“Each year, we fill more than 500 student placements across Canada,” said Matt Chapelsky, PCL Energy Inc. human resources advisor. “At the 2014 GNCTR, we interviewed eleven participants. Five of those were hired for co-op positions, and two to full-time roles.”

Why Participate

PCL representatives acted as volunteer safety judges and participated in the event’s technical exhibit. Additionally, PCL’s Toronto district sponsored the University of Waterloo’s team, the UWFD Firefighters, and PCL’s Calgary district sponsored this year’s winners, the University of Calgary’s Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Sled.
“PCL has a vested interest in furthering this profession, because engineering excellence is the foundation of any construction company,” said Mitch Soetaert, turnaround and maintenance manager for PCL (Melloy) Industrial and a safety judge at the event for the second year in a row. “This competition gives participants a firsthand opportunity to challenge themselves to build a ‘project’ that not only is fast but must also be innovative and, most importantly, safe.”
Fourth-year civil engineering student at the University of Waterloo, Scott Klinger, has completed five student co-op terms with PCL. “There are definitely some parallels between participating in the GNCTR and working at PCL,” said Klinger. “During your co-op you are set up with a mentor, someone who teaches you what to do and then lets you give it a try. As part of a GNCTR team, each member is a mentor. We take what we learn at our co-ops, teach each other, and use it to make the best toboggan we can.”

In the Spirit of Tradition

The GNCTR was originally conceived by the Alberta chapter of the American Concrete Institute (ACI) in 1972. In 1975, the GNCTR became―and remains to this day―a completely student-run competition open to teams around the world.

Check out PCL on YouTube for a snapshot of the event.


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