55.4 F

Nevada student engineering team builds, paddles concrete canoe to victory


University of Nevada, Reno beats Berkeley and seven others, qualifies for June nationals in Reno/Sparks

Civil and Environmental Engineering students at the University of Nevada, Reno paddled their 160-pound concrete canoe to victory Friday in the annual regional competition held this year in Berkeley, Calif. Using significant science and plenty of muscle, the Wolf Pack team beat out teams from eight northern California universities to earn a seventh trip in seven years to the national competition. The national competition will be hosted this year by the University of Nevada, Reno in June.

“This achievement is great, and the consistency of success over the years is even more amazing,” Manos Maragakis, dean of the College of Engineering said. “It speaks well of the quality of our students, year after year being dominant in a highly competitive region, including U.C. Berkeley, and then going to nationals and getting top finishes.”

The American Society of Civil Engineers Mid-Pac Region Conference event is more than building and paddling a 20-foot canoe made out of concrete – a six-month undertaking – it includes equal scores for design, preparing and presenting a technical paper and final product. The Nevada team placed first in four of the canoe races, and second in the fifth, as well as first place in the design paper and second place in the oral presentation portion of the competition.

The team’s canoe was 15 pounds lighter than last year’s 175-pound canoe in which they placed second at nationals. The canoe was the lightest, by 40 pounds, of any other in this year’s competition. The lightest Wolf Pack canoe was 140 pounds in 2010 when they placed fifth in nationals. In the past, teams from other schools have built and raced in canoes reported to weigh as much as 750 pounds. The aggregates used in the concrete mixture play an important role in the strength and weight of the concrete and the Nevada team spent innumerable hours perfecting the mixture, building on past year’s experience. The mixture must also be pliable for shaping and able to be spread to the half-inch thickness of the hull.

“Their success is directly proportional to the student’s many hours working on the project, including practicing rowing four times a week – even in the middle of winter, perfecting their report and presentation and, of course, countless hours on the canoe construction and display,” the team’s faculty advisor and civil and environmental engineering profssor David Sanders said.

The competition was close with the University of California, Berkeley taking second place and California State University at Sacramento taking third. Berkeley took first in the presentation and U.C. Davis won the final product portion. The Wolf Pack team is now seeking their second national title in their seventh national appearance. As part of the competition the University of Nevada also won the spirit award.

“The department is proud of this victory,” Amy Childress, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said. “It represents not only the hard work of the students but also the strong support of our alumni and community.”

The University of Nevada, Reno has represented the Mid-Pacific Conference six times at the national level with all top-10 finishes (2006, sixth place; 2007, third place; 2008, first place; 2009, fifth place; 2010, second place and 2011, fifth place).

The competition included teams from California State University, Chico; California State University, Fresno; California State University, Sacramento; San Francisco State University; San Jose State University; Santa Clara University; U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis and the University of Nevada, Reno.

The 25th annual ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition is being hosted by the University of Nevada, Reno at the Sparks Marina and on the University’s campus June 14-16. There will be two dozen teams participating, representing 18 ASCE regions from around the country.

The 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 students’ knowledge, creativity and stamina, while showcasing the versatility and durability of concrete as a building material.

All team members who participate directly in the competition must be members of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The team attracts students from mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, political science and secondary education, in addition to those from civil and environmental engineering.

For more information about the team visit their website at www.nevadacanoe.com/.  For a short video: http://bit.ly/GUXm8g.

This Is Reno is your source for award-winning independent, online Reno news and events since 2009. We are locally owned and operated.