Students snow-off their skills in China

Four engineering students from the University of Dundee faced -15°C temperatures and teams from across the world when they took part in the 11th International Snow Sculpture Competition in Harbin, China.

The team, consisting of PhD students Azin Lamei and Shuijin Li, Masters student Thomas Riccio and Undergraduate student IevaBočkutė, had just three days to chisel a 27 cubic-metre snow cube with hand tools into a standout sculpture.

The four civil engineering students, who took on professional sculptors as well as the elements in the contest, said that they would love to do it all again.

Ieva Bočkutė, a fourth-year student from Lithuania, said, “It was difficult but exhilarating. We had such a great time. It was fantastic to learn some of the language and meet other students but I think the best part about the contest was learning how to sculpt such huge amounts of snow which was so big we had to use a ladder to get on top of it. None of us had ever done anything like it before.”

The team, led by Dr Masoud Hayatdavoodi, received a warm welcome from Harbin Engineering University (HEU), which is the top university in China for Marine Hydrodynamics and Ocean Engineering.

Every year millions visit Harbin, which is situated in the north-east of China, for its annual ice and snow festival.

Masters student Thomas Riccio, from Edinburgh, said, “We were up against art and design students, sculptors and other engineering students from across the world but when it is so cold even your tears freeze solid, it really is anyone’s game.

“We had to use hand warmers and cover our noses because your nostrils would freeze. It was quite surreal. It’s just a different world, the Harbin local citizens seem to just go about unfazed. It was definitely cold but I’d absolutely do it again.”

The team were commended for their sculpture of a lighthouse with the University of Dundee crest sculpted into it. They also used the trip to present their own research to international experts of marine hydrodynamics and ocean engineering.

The growing links with Harbin University is just one connection the University of Dundee has with China. Around 800 Chinese students currently study at the University, with more than 30 arriving annually from Wuhan University to complete their studies.