It took two attempts, but UTC engineering students constructed a concrete canoe that floats. Guided by the 90 pages of rules and regulations issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 21st Annual National Concrete Canoe Competition, this four-man, one-woman team created their own unique aggregate mix of concrete and wrapped it around a foam core, landing on a design that captured the attention of judges at the ASCE regional competition in Orlando, Florida.
“Judges there told us our design was the most unique they had seen in 7 or 8 years,” said Michael Blessing, one of the team’s five graduating seniors, which also included Andrew Vastano, Stewart Rymer, Glynna Wilson and Adam Croft.
With the help of add-on engineering students Nettie Halcomb, Dianah Dugan, Marie Labrie and Megan Miller, the UTC canoe proved it was more than good looking. Of the 23 entries in the competition, the UTC canoe placed tenth in the Women’s Sprint. It also placed 10th in the Men’s Endurance Race and 11th in the Men’s Sprint.
Blessing said the first canoe began to show signs of stress when the team tested it numerous times in the waters of Chickamauga Lake. It broke in half, but both pieces were salvaged.
“We tried to repair it, but we eventually had to scrap the first canoe. Then we had to decide if we built a second canoe, would the concrete have time to cure? We decided to move forward and build the second canoe,” Blessing said.
Dr. Phil Kazemersky provided guidance as the team’s classroom professor and Dr. Joseph Owino, UC Foundation Associate Professor was the team’s faculty advisor. According to the ASCE website the concrete canoe competition “is designed to provide civil engineering students with an opportunity to gain hands-on, practical experience and leadership skills through work with concrete mix designs and project management.”
Blessing said the experience was really educational. “It was a huge lesson in teamwork,” he said. “Without everyone’s hard work and cooperation, we could never have accomplished what we did.”
See more photos of the competition.