Walk On Water: An FIU Tradition Returns to Campus

The first event in 1989 pictured left vs the latest remote event during remote classes pictured right. Photo by Michael Grichenco (PantherNOW)

By: Michael Grichenco // Staff Writer

Out of the many traditions at FIU, the “Walk On Water” annual event is one of the longest ongoing contests. Once a year, students get to witness several architecture students race with self-made floating “shoes” across the lake in front of Green Library.

Beginning in 1989, professor Jaime Canaves designed this challenge for his students as a fun and educational way to put their skills to the test. Every year, students in his materials & methods architecture class build their floatation devices to utilize in the competition.

Over the years, professor Canaves effectively turned this fun event into an exam for his class, with each student participating required to pass the finish line to earn their grade.

Being a significant portion of their semester grade, professor Canaves encourages his students to approach this challenge creatively, providing a simulated real-world example to their lessons. 

According to the event organizer, Charlotte Raynaud, the winner of this race, or to the student who is able to break the current speed record, will be awarded a $1000 scholarship, which can be used for a variety of academic programs such as study abroad. 

“Since the class always has 45 students, teams are usually formed between the contestants, while others prefer to compete alone,” states Raynaud.

    Professor Canaves alongside his own photo in 1989. Photo by Michael Grichenco (PantherNOW)

“The longest that a contestant ever lasted was about 30 minutes I think, it happened about 6 years ago,” professor Canaves remarks. The current speed record of a contestant finishing the race is 59.2 seconds.

The FIU marching band plays at the event, with other architecture students who will be the contestants for the following year, sketching the event. 

During COVID-19, when the event was not hosted on campus, the participants did a remote event where they built their own games, such as board and card games, as an alternative to the actual event.

For students interested in further information about the history of this event, PCA140 (BEA gallery) is the exhibit for the event, showcasing the previous years on their walls.

   The official contestant shirts for every year so far. Photo by Michael Grichenco (PantherNOW)

The 2021 edition will occur Nov. 4 at 11:30 a.m., with the band ready to perform and the next winner ready to possibly set a new record. Drop by the Green Library lake and enjoy the event.

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