“Sink or Sail” Boat Race Competition Comes to El Camino College

April 18, 2024 Torrance, CA

The students of El Camino College’s Society of Women Engineers are inviting everyone to come watch an action-packed cardboard boat race featuring homemade watercraft. Set for 1-3 p.m. April 19 in the campus pool, this first-ever “Sink or Sail” event challenges students to use their creativity and engineering skills by building human-sized cardboard boats to race and battle. Professors will paddle the boats across the pool, all vying for victory and bragging rights.

Civil engineering major Sidney Lee began organizing the event earlier this spring, along with committee members Rania Gomaa-Mersal, Leah Ortega, Toni Kim, and Ashley Tumanjan. They were looking to offer additional opportunities on campus where students could receive hands-on experience in engineering/STEM.

“This Sink or Sail competition is a fun way for students to showcase their knowledge while learning along the way,” added Lee, who is also vice president of SWE. “As students, much of what we learn can sometimes feel abstract and while we have labs to help broaden our understanding of the material, I think this competition can help students deepen their understanding of science, independent of the classroom and professors.”

Student teams manage the entire project, including the design, construction, and decoration of the boats and oars. Boats must be no larger than 6 feet long and 4 feet wide and built with provided materials and/or additional items from an approved list, such as cardboard, duct tape, hot glue, and caulking. Professors are assigned to a boat on race day and then must use the student-built oars to row from one end of the pool to the other – about 25 yards. 

Eight boats are entered; awards will be given to best design, fastest time during the race, and the “Boattle Royale” designation will honor the last boat floating at the end of the competition.

In addition to the race, the event features complimentary refreshments, information about El Camino’s engineering programs and SWE, along with additional surprises.

The El Camino Community College District encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation, or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact as soon as possible.

For more information about El Camino College’s STEM programs, view