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University of Wisconsin-Madison Students Win Concrete Canoe Competition

June 30, 2005
Badgers' determination to three-peat solid as a rock.

Mix thousands of pounds of concrete with hundreds of civil engineering students, add equal parts ingenuity and determination, throw in a dash of sultry South Carolina summer, pour it all into a canoe mold, and what do you get? A 2005 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) National Concrete Canoe Competition champion, that's what.

A year of blood, sweat and tears, a nearly 900-mile journey and a grueling three day competition proved no match for the rock hard determination of the University of Wisconsin-Madison students, or the rock hard material their canoe was made of: concrete. The Badgers captured their 3rd straight ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition title today at Clemson University in S.C., when their 21.5-foot, 175-pound, orange, black and white canoe, the Taliesin, defeated entries from 20 other top engineering schools from across the country. In the 18 year history of the National Concrete Canoe Competition, no team has ever achieved a "three-peat" championship. For their creativity and innovation, the team earned a $5,000 scholarship from Degussa Admixtures, Inc.

"Every year we challenge these students to come up with new and inventive designs, and every year they prove that concrete is a remarkable and versatile building material," said Degussa Admixtures President and CEO Mike Shydlowski. "Their work, during the competition and in the future, will have a tremendous impact on the building industry."

The team's closest competitors were Clemson University and Michigan Tech University. Clemson, the host school for this year's competition, paddled into second place with their black, 202-pound, 21.4-foot Aces Wild; and Michigan Tech finished a close third with the black, 175-pound, 20-foot The MacInnes. For their top finishes, Clemson and Michigan Tech earned $2,500 and $1,500 in scholarship money respectively.

"The engineering students that participate in the Concrete Canoe Competition are some of the most innovative and creative young minds today," said ASCE President-Elect Dennis R. Martenson, P.E., DEE, F.ASCE. "They will be the ones to solve our nation's infrastructure problems. Their ability to not only build a canoe made of concrete, but to successfully race it, proves further that they are equal to the challenge."

The races, both endurance and sprint combined, counted for only 25 percent of the teams' overall score. The remaining 75 percent was comprised of an academic paper, an oral presentation detailing their design, and the end product-the final racing canoe. Prior to the races, the canoes had to pass a "swamp" test where the students completely submerge the canoes in a tank of water to prove that they are still able to float horizontally when filled with water. They were also measured and weighed, and the aesthetics of each canoe was scored by both the national competition judges and the competitors.

The three-day event, organized by ASCE and hosted this year by Clemson University, is made possible by the generous support of founding sponsor Degussa Admixtures, Inc., and additional sponsors Baker Concrete Construction, CEMEX, Pennoni Associates Inc., SI Concrete Systems, 3M Specialty Materials Division and U.S. Silica Company.

The 2005 ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition teams in order of final rank are:

  • 1) University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • 2) Clemson University
  • 3) Michigan Tech University
  • 4) University of California, Berkeley
  • 5) The United States Military Academy, West Point
  • 6) University of Evansville
  • 7) University of Florida
  • 8) California State Polytechnic University - Pomona
  • 9) The City College of New York
  • 10) Western Kentucky University
  • 11) Drexel University
  • 12) Fairmont State University
  • 13) North Carolina State University
  • 14) New Mexico State University
  • 15) Oklahoma State University
  • 16) Texas A&M University
  • 17) Wentworth Institute of Technology
  • 18) University of Wisconsin-Platteville
  • 19) Boise State University
  • 20) Tulane University
  • 21) The Catholic University of America

Source: ASCE, June 27, 2005

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