The University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s concrete canoe team won the Midwest Conference regional competition in Mankato, Minn., April 19 through 20. They will compete in the national contest at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign June 20-22.
“We started working on the canoe at the beginning of the fall semester,” said Cayleigh Snodgrass, senior civil engineering major from Caledonia. “We came up with mix designs, built the mold for the canoe and practiced paddling for months. Then in February we placed the canoe in one day.”
The American Society of Civil engineers has sponsored the National Concrete Canoe Competition for 26 years, and the regional competition is even older. The contest challenges civil engineering students to design a canoe using modified concrete.
“The canoe has to be less dense than water, so that it will float,” said Andrew Kolden, senior civil engineering major from Beloit, Wis. “The concrete in our canoe was 46 pounds per cubic foot. Water is 62.4 pounds per cubic foot, and normal concrete is about 150 pounds per cubic foot.”
“Our canoe weighed 164 pounds,” Snodgrass said. “That’s 40 pounds lighter than last year.”
The regional contest was held in three parts. First came presentation, during which team members showed their canoe to a panel of judges, answered questions and explained design choices. “We chose our design for maneuverability, speed and a straight-line tracking,” Kolden said.
After presentations, the canoes hit the water for a series of races, including men’s and women’s 200-meter sprints, men’s and women’s slalom/endurance and a co-ed 400-meter sprint. In the final part of the competition, teams display their canoes and research as part of a theme they choose. “Our theme this year was ‘Engineering: canoe do it?’” Kolden said.
Concrete canoe races are open to spectators from the community. Schedules can be found at www.asce.org/concretecanoe.