The New Mexico State University College of Engineering Concrete Canoe Team placed second behind first place Utah State at the American Society of Civil Engineers Regional Conference in Fort Collins, Colo., earlier this month.
The process of designing and building the canoe was time consuming and exhausting, as students worked from September until March. Students first had to formulate the concrete mix. Tiffany Turner, the co-captain of the team, said developing the mix takes a few months. The second part of the process was determining a curing method. The team tried three different methods of curing this year and found that the best option was steam to immersion.
“Our goal coming into this year was to increase overall strength and durability. We have decided to do this by using a stronger mix and different curing method,” Turner said.
The students then developed a mold for the canoe and cast the concrete on “pour day.” The curing of the concrete after it has been cast took 35 days this year.
A total of 29 NMSU students went to the ASCE Regional Conference. Thirteen students were part of the concrete canoe team, where they competed against 12 other universities. At the regional conference, schools are assigned an overall ranking. However, based on placements in different competitions, teams can advance to nationals. NMSU had two first place finishes, one second, a fourth place and a fifth place in the canoe races. The concrete canoe advanced to nationals, which will be held June 19-21 in Johnstown, Pa. at the University of Pittsburgh.
Turner said that the team plans to improve on their presentation, report and paddling for nationals. Fundraising is also a big concern for the team, as it will cost around $1,000 per person; they plan on taking 13 students.
“It’s exhausting, but I love every minute of it,” Turner said. “Coming into this, I knew nothing about concrete and I learned by diving in. It has taught me a lot about engineering and project management.”
The concrete canoe team selects a theme for the canoe. The top choices this year were the “Manhattan Project” and “Greek mythology.” “Greek mythology” won and the canoe was named “Protogenoi.” According to mythology, Protogenoi are the first entities or beings to come into existence that were made of the very fabric of our universe. They were immortal.
Turner explained that Protogenoi is a fitting name for this year’s canoe, since the team has set new trends. For example, the pour day was done before winter break. In previous years, it was done in the spring semester. The curing method that the team used also was unique – no NMSU team has used full immersion for curing before. Turner believes that this year’s team utilized new ways of time management, strength and aesthetics.