Canoe Details

We were surprised that your story on the ASCE/MBT National Concrete Canoe Competition did not provide more detail on the competition or on the winning canoe from The University of Wisconsin-Madison (ENR 7/14 p. 20).

The American Society of Civil Engineers and Master Builders Inc. formed a partnership 16 years ago to organize and sponsor the National Concrete Canoe Competitions, bringing together teams from colleges and universities across the country that had been participating in regional competitions since the early 1970’s. Each year, more than 2,000 engineering students participate in ASCE regional competitions.

The competition reaches students who will soon be actively engaged in specifying construction materials and practices. The event provides students an opportunity to apply the engineering principles they learn in the classroom in a practical application. In the process, they gain important team and project management skills they will need in their careers, and a hands-on opportunity to work with concrete mix designs in an effort to understand the properties of various materials that can be added to concrete to influence performance.

We work very hard to challenge the students. Each year, the Committee on National Concrete Canoe Competitions changes the rules in an effort to foster creativity and introduce new engineering and material concepts. Revisions this year required teams to use ordinary sand as 15% of their aggregate mixture and recycled coal fly ash as 20% of the binding material. The elimination of paint was a change that forced students to explore the technology and mechanics of integral coloring of concrete and concrete stains.

This competition has grown in scope and difficulty and now serves as a showcase for excellence in civil engineering education. As sponsors and organizers, it is our hope that practicing civil engineers across the country will provide guidance to the future of their profession by getting involved with the competitions.

We hope that ENR readers will heed that call and volunteer their time to assist a local ASCE student chapter when they are working on their concrete canoe project or regional competition. It is through this mentoring that students learn important skills and concepts that will make them better employees.

For the benefit of your readers, the University of Wisconsin-Madison captured its first national title at the 16th Annual ASCE/MBT National Concrete Canoe Competition with their 145-lb, 22-ft canoe Chequamegon, or "place of shallow water" in the language of the Ojibwa Native American tribe.