Walking on Water: An FIU tradition for 20 years

MIAMI – For two decades, sophomore architecture students who take Professor Jaime Canaves’ class have had a seemingly impossible assignment: Walk on water.

More than 1,500 students later, the class project has become a university tradition that attracts parents, faculty, staff and fellow students to watch the race at the lake behind the Green Library.

The winner receives $500 and an A. Everyone else who crosses the 175-foot-wide lake also gets an A and the opportunity to drop their lowest grade.  

“If this event doesn’t show everyone that FIU and its students are masters at turning the impossible into the inevitable, then nothing can,” said FIU President Mark Rosenberg, who will be in attendance.

This year, the event will take place on Wednesday, November 3 at noon, during FIU’s homecoming week. And for the first time, Walk on Water will join forces with the Farmer’s Market, which usually sets up elsewhere on campus every Wednesday and offers fresh, locally grown organic fruits and vegetables to students, faculty and staff at an affordable price.

“This year will be bigger than ever,” said Canaves, who first conceived the event and runs it every year. “I am proud to join with the Farmer’s Market to create this new tradition at FIU that celebrates students’ creativity and ingenuity.”

The 35 students who will participate this year will join a long line of Walk on Water alumni who have worked independently or in teams to build shoes that will transport them across the lake without getting wet.

Some notable facts: The youngest person to walk across the lake was 9 years old, and walked in place of her mother in 1998. The oldest, at 67, walked across in 2009. The fastest has been timed at 1 minute 23 seconds, in 2005. The slowest have been past the 15 minute mark (multiple years). Most winners have taken about 1 minute 30 seconds to cross.

Wackiest shoe? A tie between one student who tied basketballs together and another who built his devices to look like oversized lips, and painted them red. 

“There is no golden rule,” said Canaves. “There are no advantages between students who are big, small, old, young, women or men. The key is in the shoes you create.”

 Media Contact:  Jean-Paul Renaud at 305-348-2716.

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