School of Engineering Hosts 30th Annual Wooden Shoe Regatta
August 29, 2021
It was a race to the finish on the high seas in the Keller Engineering Building! Junior-level engineering students in the Fluid Mechanics (EGR 365) course gathered around the pool in the fluids lab, where fans lined up alongside the pool provided a wind that would propel their individually designed model sailboats forward. One by one, they placed their models at the starting line and held their breath as they waited for the wind to catch the sails and propel their sailboats forward.
Starting with a 2 inch by 4 inch by 10 inch block of basswood, each student designed and built their own 1/12 scale model of a single hull sailboat. In order to build the model sailboats, students had to balance forces on the hull, keel, sail, and rudder and be able to understand how they work together. The boats sail on a beam reach, with wind coming from the side, over the length of a 9-foot course. While the race and style competitions are the fun, visible, and ungraded part of the project, each student invests a significant amount of time and effort in tests to find the right combination of resistance versus speed for their hull in the lab towing tank. Students combine results of model tests on the hulls together with model tests on sails to predict full scale performance of their model sailboats and write a report in which the results are reported. If, for some reason, they are unable to get their models to complete the race, they must explain why the sailboat did not sail as expected and what they would need to change to improve its performance. It's a race for understanding how fluid mechanics can be applied to the real problem of sailboats, and a true engineering design experience.
With the exception of 2020 due to Covid, the "Wooden Shoe Regatta" event, started by School of Engineering faculty member Dr. Shirley Fleischmann and named for the hand-painted wooden shoes she awards as trophies, has been a yearly celebration of students' educational progress. This year marked the 30th anniversary of the first boat races, which Dr. Fleischmann commemorated with the creation of a special keepsake coin.
Josephine Ruiter would have been a competitor in the 2020 event and decided to test her boat in the 2021 races, winning both the style and speed competitions for 2020. Both the 2021 style and speed awards went to Noah Speechley. Kindsey Arendsen was awarded 2nd place in the 2021 style competition and Nicholas Taylor and Mark Feldpausch received honorable mentions. Nicholas Taylor was also awarded 2nd place in the 2021 speed competition and Eric Braun, Nicholas Mumaw, and Lance Deemter received honorable mentions.