U canoe team rows to sixth-place finish
For the eleventh time in 13 years, IT students rowed away with
the first-place title in the regional round of the American Society
of Civil Engineers/Master Builders Concrete Canoe Competition.
The team, led by Jesse Struve (CE '01), went on to an impressive
sixth-place finish in the national competition in San Diego, where
24 teams competed for $9,000 in scholarship money.
Competition scores are based on a number of factors, including
the canoe's appearance and structural integrity, students' paddling
prowess, a display, and written and oral presentations on the canoe's
design. In previous years, contestants could use foam on the tips
of the canoe to provide floatation, but this year concrete had to
provide all the buoyancy.
According to Struve, that new design rule presented a number of
challenges. "We had to completely redevelop our concrete mix so
that the unit weight became lighter than water while maintaining
a certain strength goal," he says. "That was a lot of work."
The new mix was made up of a combination of portland cement, latex,
glass beads, chemical admixtures, and ceramic spheres. "We tested
over 30 new concrete mixes to get just the right combination," says
Struve. "It was a real challenge."
It took eight months for the students to design and build the 100-pound,
18-foot canoe, which they named Koukan.
Training was another challenge. An especially harsh winter kept
Minnesota lakes icy until two days before the regional competition,
which made it difficult to gauge how the boat would perform.
"With the ice on the lakes, we only had the Mississippi River to
practice on, and we could only practice two weeks before the regional,"
he says. "But our training was really focused, and our paddlers
did really well."
This year's sixth-place national finish is the team's best ever,
and Struve is confident that future competitions will bring even
greater success. "The team will continue to find new innovations
that set Minnesota apart from the rest of the competitors," he says.
"We'll just get better and better."