UW wins third victory in concrete canoe competition

Engineering students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison paddled their way into history using cement – not wood – as the element for success.

For the third time in a row, the team’s orange, black and white canoe dashed past 20 others at the 2005 American Society of Civil Engineers National Concrete Canoe Competition. It was the first time in the tournament’s 18-year history a team has won three consecutive times.

The team earned a $5,000 scholarship and trophy from Degussa Admixtures.

The three-day event, held in late June at Clemson University in South Carolina was a 900-mile journey worth taking, said Jaime Kurte, captain of the University of Wisconsin-Madison team. She said the team’s success was based on its paddling techniques and mindset. It was the senior engineering major’s second time on the team.

“We’re still surprised,” Kurte said while traveling back to Wisconsin. “We all had the dedication and wanted to win, but it was still a shock.”

Kurte said her 30-member team started building the prized canoe, “Talieson,” at the end of January. They spent $5,000 building the 21.5-foot, 175-pound canoe – the same amount they won. Since the competition’s rules, which were issued in early September, restrict teams from using award money on next year’s canoe, the team will distribute the money amongst themselves, Kurte said.

Talieson’s design was a remake of those used in past competitions. “We kind of made a combination of the last two years,” Kurte said.

Trailing behind UW was Clemson’s 202-pound, 21.4-foot “Aces Wild” in second place and Michigan Technological University’s 175-pound, 20-foot “MacInnes” in third. The teams won $2,500 and $1,500, respectively.

Prior to the races, the canoes had to pass a “swamp” test in which students completely submerged the canoes in a tank of water to prove they were able to float horizontally. The canoes were also measured and weighed, and both the national competition judges and Clemson’s ASCE chapter scored the aesthetics of each canoe.

The race was only 25 percent of the teams’ overall score. The remaining 75 percent was comprised of an academic paper, an oral presentation detailing the design, and a score of the overall canoe.

According to ASCE, the race appeals to the top engineering schools in the country. The competition expanded to a national level in 1988 when Master Builders offered to become the sole corporate partner of the collegiate event. In its first year, 18 civil engineering student teams from the nation’s top engineering programs gathered at Lake Lansing in East Lansing, Mich., for the competition.

Other teams at the competition by rank are as follows:

  1. University of Wisconsin-Madison
  2. Clemson University
  3. Michigan Tech University
  4. University of California, Berkeley
  5. The United States Military Academy, West Point
  6. University of Evansville
  7. University of Florida
  8. California State Polytechnic University-Pomona
  9. The City College of New York
  10. Western Kentucky University
  11. Drexel University
  12. Fairmont State University
  13. North Carolina State University
  14. New Mexico State University
  15. Oklahoma State University
  16. Texas A&M University
  17. Wentworth Institute of Technology
  18. University of Wisconsin-Platteville
  19. Boise State University
  20. Tulane University
  21. The Catholic University of America
    1. Ebony Horton can be reached at ehorton@randallpub.com.