“Besides the six months of planning, building and testing and fundraising for their teams to compete at the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race, what really stands out to me is the unique culture of the competition,” says Brendan O’Neil, human resources manager for PCL Toronto and first-time attendee. “The level of cheering, spirit and comradery between participants is truly unmatched and was impressive to witness.”
You certainly won’t find these toboggans in stores — the competing teams’ sleds must have concrete running surfaces, steering and braking systems, hold five passengers, meet stringent safety requirements and weigh less than 350 pounds.
From January 29 to February 1, the students’ hard work and preparation were put to the test as they gathered in Toronto, Ontario, for the 46th edition of the race. PCL was there as a title sponsor — cheering on the teams while they raced their concrete toboggans down the large ski hill.
The competition goes beyond the technical, as teams earn points by demonstrating exceptional spirit. Teams also come up with creative team names, custom costumes and activities for other competitors to participate in at the technical exhibition, based on a theme of their choice. The competitive spirit of the event motivates teams to go the extra mile with their costumes and toboggan aesthetic. Among the unique offerings were the Lawrence Technological University and the Model T-Bog, Boggtor Seuss – The ConcoCat in the Hat and Pirates of the Cariboggan.
“Every year, we are impressed by the creativity and innovation that each team brings to this one-of-a-kind event. The effort that these teams put into building their toboggans resembles the planning and execution of projects that PCL builds across North America, which makes it even more exciting for us to be a part of,” says Michel Servant, project manager and safety judge.
The event is an opportunity for sponsors to engage and share career opportunities with student competitors. It’s an avenue for PCL to network over the course of several days with high-potential engineering students, who might fill some of the more than 500 term placements that PCL makes available annually across Canada.
“It’s exciting to connect with such driven students. They represent the types of students and new graduates we want working for our company,” says Shannon Johnston, human resources coordinator for PCL Industrial Management. “Supporting them by helping to make this event possible is the beginning of a strong relationship and hopefully the start of their future careers at PCL.”