FIU's 'Walk On Water' Competition Celebrates 30 Years Of Design Shenanigans

Nov 7, 2019

There weren’t just ducks swimming in the lake at Florida International University's main campus this week. 

FIU just held its 30th annual ‘Walk On Water’ Competition, where architecture students from FIU and Palm Beach State College design and construct so-called “shoes” to help them float to the finish line and cross a 175-foot lake. 

Over 60 students waddled across the lake that many have tried, and failed to cross since the competition began in 1989. FIU’s College of Communication, Architecture and the Arts — or CARTA — puts on the competition each year. Winners can walk away with up to two thousand dollars in scholarship money. 

FIU and Palm Beach State College architecture students competed in the 30th annual 'Walk On Water' competition on Thursday, November 7, 2019.
Credit Lily Oppenheimer / WLRN

This year, it was Team Palm, with student Armam Alaverdian also earning an extra thousand dollars by establishing a new record when he crossed in less than one minute and one second.

But to get an A on the assignment, teams from FIU and Palm Beach State College had to make it to the finish line. 

Second year architecture student Barbara Camelia raced for her team, Sushi Flow. She was one of the last ones to finish, and collapsed, triumphant, on the side of the lake.

Gasping for air and covered in muck, she said she had to get that A.  

“At the beginning I was like, oh my God it broke,” Camelia said.

“I couldn’t stand up.” 

She spent about 15 extra minutes in the middle of the lake, with hundreds of people cheering her to keep going. 

But it’s a lot harder than it looks, according to Sushi Flow. 

All the teams were limited in materials and design structure, with most of the shoes constructed from styrofoam, plywood, duct tape and PVC pipe. 

To honor the legends that either sank, swam or floated all these years, FIU also opened up a temporary exhibit with newspaper clippings going all the way back to the beginning. You can visit the exhibit on FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus in the Paul L. Cejas Architecture Building.