An MIT Alumni Association Publication
Guest Blogger: Casey Wessel '15

Guest blogger Carey Wessel and the Masseeh Create Team built The Phoenix.
Guest blogger Casey Wessel and the Maseeh Create Team built The Phoenix.

I wasn't doing a lot over this IAP. I was taking a five-day, intro to electronics course, and planning on starting a build project with one of my friends. I'm a freshman living in Maseeh Hall, (the old Ashdown building, now turned into undergraduate housing) and I'm course 8 and 6-1, but I love building all kinds of things. I was in my room one night when one of my friends asked me if the Maseeh Create Club was entering Head of the Zesiger.

Head of the Zesiger is a cardboard boat regatta held every year in the Z Center pool. The only allowed materials are corrugated cardboard, paper tape, caulk, and a polyurethane water sealant. The boat must hold three people in a race around the pool.

We worked each night on the boat, reinforcing the insides of the pontoons, designing a structured deck, and putting the whole thing together.

The Phoenix, completed and ready for the Z pool race.
The Phoenix, ready for the Z pool race.

We decided to name the boat The Phoenix because the phoenix has become the unofficial mascot of Maseeh.

On Sunday, afternoon we carried our boat to the Z Center, and we got the first look at our competition. A couple looked decent, but most looked like they would barely float. We thought we had the competition in the bag.

We took our boats into the pool deck. The judges came by to judge our boats for the "Best Design" award. We looked in the stands, and they were filled with Maseeh residents ready to watch our boat.

We placed our boat in the water, and our friends, who we recruited to row the boat, edged their way onto the deck of the boat. All three members of our crew made it on the boat, but the second they paddled away from the pool deck, one of the pontoons snapped. The guys did a great job and kept paddling as long as they could. The boat slowly started falling apart as each piece became water logged. Eventually they were just swimming with the pieces of our boat trying to make it to the finish line. The pool deck was roaring with laughter.

The Phoenix collapsing...
The Phoenix collapsing...

It was heart-wrenching seeing our project go down in the Z Center pool, but we did a great job building it and that's where the fun was. It turns out we actually won the award for Best Design. Like everyone else, they thought it looked the best, but there was a weak spot in one of the supports that collapsed, and the rest of the boat went with it.

Overall it was a great experience. We learned a lot, had a good laugh, and got a free dinner at the Asgard with the gift card we won.

 

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