Home turf, or in this case – home surf – proved to be an advantage for the University of Nevada-Reno Concrete Canoe Team as they finished first in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Regional Concrete Canoe Competition on April 15th at the Sparks Marina.

The University of Nevada-Reno (UNR) Team now advances to the Nationals, which take place in Platteville, Wisconsin on June 10th through the 12th. Highlights of this year’s qualifying regional event in Sparks included UNR’s coming in first place in all of races, with a second place finish in the Men’s Final Sprints being the only exception. Additionally, the UNR Canoe Crew received the best overall presentation.

The ASCE Intermountain Southwest Student Symposium (ISWS), which brings together students from 12 universities across four states, held the event this year at the home of the University of Nevada-Reno on April 13th through the 15th at both the UNR campus and the Sparks Marina.

The crew of the Taurus pulls ahead of the other concrete canoes, on their way to one of the team’s first-place finishes in the Regionals at the Sparks Marina.

After winning last year’s ISWS regional competition in Las Vegas, and then placing seventh in the national competition in June, the UNR Concrete Canoe Team was ready for this year’s challenge. Inspired by the Reno Rodeo, another regional competition in the Truckee Meadows, the team named its canoe, Taurus.

The UNR Concrete Canoe Crew readies the shell of the “Taurus” on “Pour Day.”

“The team was excited for this year’s competition. We’ve been working really hard on making sure we are prepared,” shared project managers Lucas Pritchett and Tanner McIlree. “The fact that we hosted the competition this year has only encouraged us to go above and beyond. We were confident in this year’s team.”

Strong student support of the Reno Concrete Canoe Team was evident – and very vocal – on shore throughout the competition.

“Zach Flowers and Karlie Del Santo have put in so much time to make this conference a success and I am so proud of all their hard work,” said Kelly Keselica, the team’s faculty advisor. “We are thrilled to host this conference.”

ISWS Features Multiple Competitions
The Concrete Canoe Race is just one aspect of the ISWS, albeit the most exciting one that you can cheer on. There is also the Steel Bridge Competition and the Timber Strong Competition, in which students design and build two-story, light-framed, wooden buildings.

“The faculty and staff in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering are extremely proud of the many accomplishments our students have achieved, particularly their leadership in hosting the Intermountain Southwest ASCE Student Symposium this April,” Civil & Environmental Engineering Associate Professor Eric Marchand said. “It is truly remarkable to witness the ingenuity, creativity and dedication that is displayed by the various ASCE student chapters.”

The University’s Concrete Canoe Club is a civil engineering-based organization that spends most of the academic year planning, designing, and working together to craft a working canoe out of concrete.

Paddles are flying as the UNR Canoe Crew slices through the water at the Sparks Marina, on their way to another first-place finish – and advancement to the Nationals in Platteville, Wisconsin.

The design process kicks off the club’s efforts, which then branch out into the different disciplines: hull design; structural analysis; the mix; and, finally, construction. The process builds teamwork and engages the students who have a lot of fun learning about concrete.

The team removes certain heavier materials from the concrete mixture, replacing them with lighter materials, and also use admixtures to change the density. Volume displacement is carefully calculated to ensure the canoe still functions as a canoe and floats. The biggest day of the whole process is “pour day,” when team members gather at 4 am to cast the canoe with concrete.

This year, it all proved to be a winning formula. Best of Luck to the UNR Concrete Canoe Crew in Platteville!