NMSU’s Concrete Canoe Team head to nationals after win at regional competition


Photo courtesy of ASCE

The concrete canoe team for the New Mexico State University chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers is preparing to go to the national competition this June after winning the regional competition earlier this month.

Concrete canoe is one of the ASCE events students can participate in at competitions, along with the Steel Bridge and Mystery Design events. Students competed in Rapid City, South Dakota on April 5-7, 2018 and won first place, qualifying them for a position in the national competition in San Diego, California on June 23-25, 2018.

Kenny Stevens, an academic advisor for the group, said concrete canoe started during the 1960s as a fun pastime. Later, the ASCE made it an official part of their society and divided the country into regions.

Jordan Benge, a civil engineering major and head captain of the group, explained that the region NMSU competes in includes schools from New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota.

Benge said the team includes 10 people, five men and five women, who compete, which involves more than just racing the canoe.

“We have a final product portion which is basically like the canoe itself and our display. Then we have an oral presentation, we have our design report and then we have the races,” Benge said. The races include men’s sprint, men’s endurance, women’s sprint, women’s endurance and a co-ed sprint.

Benge explained that the canoe process starts at the beginning of the year with a design idea or theme. Once the canoe is designed they start making the concrete.

“We experiment a lot with different mix designs and figuring out what amounts of each thing that we put in it work to make it light but strong concrete,” Benge said.

Stevens explained that the concrete mixture they use is partly regular concrete, but students have to get creative with what additional materials they add to it. One of the things they have found to work well is expanded glass.

“And so the main thing that they use, instead of sand and gravel, which normal concrete has, they use different sizes of glass bubbles,” Stevens said.

Stevens said students will mainly be refining their current work and practicing paddling in preparation for the national competition this summer.

“There’s a joke amongst our competitors that NMSU doesn’t do great at the long distance, but we turn really well because our main practicing spot is that duck pond, you know up by Ed Services,” Stevens said. Stevens explained that every few weeks the students go to Caballo Lake to practice with more space.

ASCE students will travel to San Diego in June to compete against schools from around the country, as well as a few international teams.

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