After sweeping the competition in the Mid-Pacific Conference this spring, the University of Nevada, Reno concrete canoe team heads to the National Concrete Canoe Competition this week to face 22 other top universities from around the country.
The civil engineering students carry on the College of Engineering's winning tradition by making this the ninth year in a row to earn a national appearance. The team packs up their canoe, named Alluvium, and heads out Saturday on their road trip to Johnstown, Penn. to put their academic and paddling skills to the test.
"They should do really well at Nationals, they're really strong on the water and aced the academic portions in Regionals," Kelly Doyle, practitioner advisor for the team, said. "The canoe is a little heavier this year and there are some very light canoes we're up against, but the team has prepared very well."
This year's canoe weighs approximately 170 pounds and is slightly less dense than water at 55 pounds per cubic foot. Some of their competitor's canoes weigh under 150 pounds - with one a reportedly amazingly light 110 pounds - and some weigh as much as 350 pounds
Engineering students representing 18 other conferences around the country compete in nationals, including Cornell University, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Kansas, Clemson University, Louisiana Tech University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Tongji University, Texas A&M University and Utah State. The event is sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The competition's goal is to give civil engineering students hands-on experience working with concrete - one of the world's most common building materials - and to increase public awareness about civil engineering as a dynamic and innovative field.
Nevada has claimed a top-five finish every year since 2007, and the team won the national competition in 2008.
Teams compete for the highest score, a composite of five canoe races, canoe aesthetics, a technical paper and an oral presentation.
"I'm excited about this year," engineering student Kristin Kramer, co-project manager, said. "Every year changes, and the team this year is very cohesive thanks to our dedication and outside bonding. Our success is really from the dedication level of the team and the support from alumni and the University."
"Nevada's concrete canoe teams have placed first at regionals for the last three years," Kramer said. "We've been going to Nationals since 2007. It's a lot of pressure to continue the legacy."