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Universities compete in national concrete canoe championship at Utah Lake State Park

Posted at 6:53 PM, Jun 21, 2024

PROVO, Utah — Over 500 civil engineering college students from across the country and Canada competed in a two-day Concrete Canoe Competition at Utah Lake State Park Thursday and Friday to bring their knowledge and ingenuity from the classrooms to the real world.

“A concrete canoe is literally just that,” said Emily Cooper, team captain of the BYU team.
“ A canoe that's made of concrete that floats in the water, but it's also durable enough to hold the weight of four people.”

The competition hosted by the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Civil Engineering Student Championships featured 48 universities with canoes weighing anywhere from 140 to 300 pounds.

“The students learn how to make concrete, how to shape it, how you make it stronger, the different components, how you reinforce the different ways, and you actually physically make something with it,” said Maria Lehman, 2023 president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

The final races at Utah Lake State Park culminated several competitions hosted across the country.

“We started off with about 6500 students,” Lehman said. “Now we're down to about 500.”

The races got rowdy as teams from each university competed in heats and speed sprints. There were all-women races, men’s and mixed doubles.

For Hannah Asano, student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, the races were competitive, but a great way to make friends she says.

“It's definitely scary, but you know, we still hold it down, we still support everybody and show our aloha to everyone,” Asano said.

Along with races on the water, students also complete a paper on their design and process and present their final product to judges.

“At ASCE our intent is with these competitions first of all, is to take what they're learning in their classes for civil engineering and making it real,” Lehman added. “How does it apply in the real world? How do you actually build something? You know what could go wrong and so that they're better designers in the future.”