This was no ordinary boat race. The competitors weren’t sleek sailboats riding the winds or high-powered yachts muscling their way across the finish line. Theses were canoes made of concrete.
The only thing propelling these crafts was the determination of the engineering students that created them in a bid to win the ’America’s Cup of Civil Engineering.’
Like all success stories, the journey for the University of Wisconsin-Madison was demanding. Calculations and measurements made to meet the strict competition requirements, and aching muscles from hours of paddling were just a few of the challenges facing the Badgers when they set out to compete in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) 19th Annual National Concrete Canoe Competition.
With ingenuity and determination, they paddled their canoe, the Forward, to victory. Capturing their fourth straight Concrete Canoe Competition title at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, the team’s 21-ft.-long, 162-lb., natural gray canoe defeated entries from 22 other engineering schools from across the country.
“This year’s class of National Concrete Canoe Competition students is exceptionally creative, innovative and dedicated,” said ASCE President Dennis R. Martenson. “As the engineers of tomorrow, they represent the future of our nation’s infrastructure, and the skills they have displayed these past three days assures me that our future will be very bright indeed.”
The team’s closest competitors were California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and Clemson University. Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo paddled into second place with the white, 250-lb, 21.2-ft.-long Katana; and Clemson finished a close third with the brown granite, 151-lb., 18.7-ft.-long Take It For Granite.
For their top finishes, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and Clemson earned $5,000, $2,500 and $1,500 in scholarship money, respectively.
The 2006 ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition teams in order of final rank are:
• University of Wisconsin-Madison
• California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
• Clemson University
• University of California, Berkeley
• Michigan Technological University
• University of Nevada, Reno
• The University of Alabama in Huntsville
• Western Kentucky University
• University of Wisconsin-Platteville
• Drexel University
• Oklahoma State University
• University of Washington
• Ohio Northern University
• North Carolina State University
• University of Evansville
• University of Oklahoma
• Fairmont State University
• University of Maine
Five-way tie for 19th place:
• Clarkson University
• Louisiana State University
• Polytechnic University
• South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
• Texas A&M University
“Every year we challenge these students to come up with new and inventive designs, and every year they exceed our expectations,” said Degussa Admixtures President and CEO Mike Shydlowski. “Their work, during the competition and in the future, will have a tremendous impact on the building industry.”
The races, both endurance and sprint combined, counted for only 25 percent of the teams’ overall score. The remaining 75 percent was based equally on: a technical design paper that highlighted the planning, development, testing and construction of the team’s canoe; a formal five-minute oral presentation, in which the team had to detail their canoe’s design, construction, racing ability and other features, as well as defend their choices to the judges during a question and answer session; and the end product — the final racing canoe and project display, which were scored on aesthetics and visual presentation.
The three-day event, organized by ASCE and hosted by Oklahoma State University, is made possible by the support of founding sponsor Degussa Admixtures Inc., as well as the American Concrete Institute, Baker Concrete Construction, CEMEX, ICS Penetron, Pennoni Associates Inc., Propex Concrete Systems, Bentley Systems Incorporated and U.S. Silica Company.
For more information, visit www.asce.org.