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April 20, 2011
By Mike Wolterbeek
The University of Nevada, Reno concrete canoe team continued its winning tradition by taking first place in the regional contest Saturday and earning an unprecedented sixth trip in a row to the national competition in Evansville, Ind. in June.
While the paddling portion of the American Society of Civil Engineers Mid-Pacific conference in Sacramento was very close, the Nevada team of engineering students dominated the competition by taking first in the design paper and final product portions and third in oral presentation.
"As always, it was very competitive, with just a couple points between us and the other teams in the race portion," said Kelly Lyttle, advisor for the University's ASCE student chapter. The Nevada Canoe team's archrival University of California, Berkeley came in second place overall and San Jose State University came in third. Eight universities competed in the regional competition.
"Our lightweight concrete made a huge difference from last year," Lyttle said. "Weight is such an important factor. Our canoe, Black Diamond, was 45 to 50 pounds lighter than last years at about 175 pounds, and considerably lighter than Fresno State's which weighed in at 750 pounds."
"The concrete canoe team's sustained success over the last six years has been fantastic," David Sanders, civil and environmental engineering professor and the team's adviser said. "Students have come and gone but the team continues to maintain excellence. The students and the University have much to be proud of in the team's accomplishments. The students learn about project management, critical thinking and problem solving, new materials, and presentation of results."
The Nevada team has represented the Mid-Pacific Conference five times at the national level with all top-10 finishes: sixth place in 2006; third place in 2007; first place in 2008; fifth place in 2009 and second place in 2010.
"I am so proud of our team and can't wait until June for the national competition," Angeli Gamez, team manager, said. "Everything went smoothly - the canoe floated, we won three out of five races. Everybody definitely had fun. We saw that our hard work for the nine months of designing and building the canoe was worth it and we're ready to go to nationals."
College of Engineering Dean Manos Maragakis congratulated the 25-member team on its victory.
"This is a major accomplishment," he said. "The sustained excellence we are achieving in this competition makes it even bigger. It speaks well for the quality of our students."
The competition engages engineering students by testing their technical skills in designing, building and paddling concrete canoes. Students work through 76 pages of rules and regulations, which change slightly every year. The canoe must be 20 feet long and no more than 31.1875 inches wide at the middle. A complete set of design specifications and drawings, including requirements for concrete mixtures, dimensions, structural elements and flotation materials, are used by each of the teams in building their boats.
The ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition provides students with a practical application of the engineering principles they learn in the classroom, along with important team and project management skills they will need in their careers. The event challenges the student's knowledge, creativity and stamina, while showcasing the versatility and durability of concrete as a building material.
For more information about the team, visit Nevada Canoe.