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UE Concrete Canoe Headed to Nationals

Posted: Monday, April 22, 2013

For the fourth time in the past five years, the University of Evansville’s Concrete Canoe team has qualified for the American Society of Civil Engineers National Concrete Canoe Competition, held this year from June 20-22 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

UE’s team of civil engineering students earned a bid to nationals by winning the Concrete Canoe competition at the ASCE Great Lakes Student Conference, held April 18-20 at Trine University in Angola, Indiana. UE placed first out of 17 Concrete Canoe teams, besting the perennial powerhouse team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (which has won regionals 17 of the last 19 years), as well as teams from Purdue University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Notre Dame, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and others.

“I’m incredibly proud of this year’s team for earning a first-place finish at the regional competition. The team has logged over 1,000 hours since the fall semester to design and build their canoe, and unlike other teams in the competition, they do not receive academic credit to participate in Concrete Canoe. They compete simply because they love a challenge, take pride in doing an excellent job, and want to carry on a winning tradition,” said Mark Valenzuela, associate professor of civil engineering and the team’s faculty advisor. “After enduring hours-long road trips, late nights, and freezing wind and rain, we sometimes wonder, ‘Is it worth it?’ And win or lose, each year the answer has always been ‘Yes!’”

The Concrete Canoe competition consists of four categories: races, oral presentation, final product, and design paper, with each counting equally toward the final score. Because of severe weather during the ASCE Great Lakes Student Conference, the races were canceled, shifting the fight to the academic portion of the competition.

“Civil engineering students on the Concrete Canoe team compete both as athletes and scholars.  At the ASCE Great Lakes Student Conference, they must demonstrate outstanding presentation, writing, and academic skills to qualify for nationals,” said Brian Swenty, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering. “This year, our students once again proved that they can rise to the top in a highly competitive field of civil engineering students from the region’s best public and private universities. We’re very proud of our students’ work and look forward to another great showing at nationals this summer.”

This year’s canoe, “Palus” (an astronomical term to describe a surface feature on the moon), is 19.9 feet long and weighs 216 pounds. Inspired by an episode of “MythBusters” that investigated whether a car with a dimpled texture like a golf ball could obtain better gas mileage, the canoe features dimples to help reduce drag in the water.

UE Concrete Canoe team members are Jamie Johnson (project manager), Jaclyn Altstadt, Christina Bernauer, Abby Browder, George Carroll, Aubin Fowler, James Gabe, Ryan Hayes, Luc Heidenreich, Amanda Hopf, Chris Kuester, Hieronymus Mitchell, Alejandro Mojica Cadario, Zach Neukam, Hannah Okray, Shannon Osiecki, Heather Passey, Alex Schwinghamer, Katelyn Spainhour, Kilian Sweet, and Bekah Taylor.

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