Concrete Canoe

About the ASCE Concrete Canoe Competition

The ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition provides students with a practical application of the engineering principles they learn in the classroom, along with important team and project management skills they will need in their careers.  The event challenges the students' knowledge, creativity and stamina, while showcasing the versatility and durability of concrete as a building material.  Students design and build a canoe conforming to rules provided by ASCE, prepare a written report on the canoe, deliver a presentation on the canoe, and finally race their canoes against other schools.

Teams compete at the regional level, and top schools from each regional earn the right to participate in the national competition.  UH ASCE is part of the Texas-Mexico Regional, and we have advanced to the national competition six times.  Our most recent trip to the national competition was in 2009 with the canoe “Steer Clear.”

The Challenge

The Texas ASCE Student Chapters and Clubs construct and race a canoe of concrete in a competitive and rather fun environment sponsored by a national sponsor as well as by local sponsors. The objectives of the competition are as follows:

  • To challenge civil engineering students to apply engineering principles in designing and racing a concrete canoe.
  • To build awareness of ASCE's and Master Builder's commitment to civil engineering education.
  • To increase awareness of concrete technology application and innovation.
  • To reinforce the ASCE Student Chapter/Club Program.
  • To aid the professional development of young civil engineers.
  • To build camaraderie among ASCE Student Chapters/Clubs, educators, and practitioners.

Each year the competition is held in a new location hosted by an ASCE Student Chapter. After competing in the Regional Conference we travel to the National Conference and have had several respectable showings. The National Competition in the past has been held at various universities and locations including: University of Houston, University of Texas, South Padre Island, Texas A&M University, and Texas Tech University.

The Design
The design of the canoe is a fundamental aspect of the competition.  Each year ASCE provides a set of rules that outline requirements and restrictions for design and construction of the canoe.  Past guidelines have included limitations on things like canoe dimensions, canoe weight, and types of construction materials.  In some years specific minimum percentages of recycled materials have been required.  Minimum compressive, tensile, and flexural strengths have also been specified for some competitions.

The Competition
At the actual competition event there is scoring in four categories:  design paper, oral presentation, final product, and racing.

Design Paper
The design paper is the formulation of all the work and research completed and compiled into a technical ten page paper.  Ingenuity, uniqueness of design, and research are aspects that are discussed in the paper, along with required information on the composition of the concrete mix used in the canoe.

Oral Presentation
Multiple team members participate in the five minute oral presentation on the canoe design and construction process.  Multimedia effects and video clips are used to make the presentations as professional and informative as possible.  After the presentation there is a question and answer period where the judges can question the team members on any aspect of the concrete design and manufacturing processes.

Final Product
The final product part of the competition is where the quality of workmanship, finish, aesthetics, and theme for the canoe are judged.  A poster display and a cross-section showing interim construction stages are also judged in this part of the competition.

Racing
The specific canoe races used in past competitions have varied, but both sprints and endurance races are typical.  There are generally races with women paddlers only, men only, and both women and men paddlers.  The race courses are laid out with buoys and scoring is based on the time required to complete the race.

The Experience
The concrete canoe competition is an exciting way to apply classroom concepts to a hands-on project and to form lasting friendships with fellow engineering students.  Together you work to solve a real world problem and get to see the project come to life from the initial design on paper, through the construction process, and then finally to racing the final product.  You don’t have to be an expert in concrete or engineering design, just come and be ready to learn and to get your hands dirty!

 

If you are a student interested in becoming a concrete canoe team member, we would LOVE for you to get involved!  Contact the canoe team at uhconcretecanoeteam@gmail.com

ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition http://www.asce.org/concretecanoe/