WRITER: Tiffany Acosta
A concrete canoe would be considered an odd pairing to most people. For a group of New Mexico State University College of Engineering students, it poses a challenge they are eager to meet.
NMSU’s concrete canoe team captured first-place honors at the American Society of Civil Engineers 2018 Rocky Mountain Student Conference Region 8 at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in early April. ASCE student conferences include professional and technical presentations, business meeting, social activities, additional competitions such as surveying and steel bridge and an awards banquet.
After claiming top honors, NMSU will advance to the ASCE concrete canoe national competition June 23-25 in San Diego, California. This trip will be the ninth time NMSU has taken regional honors and qualified for nationals since 1988.
According to the ASCE website, “since the early 1970s, ASCE student chapters have been constructing and racing concrete canoes. During that time, canoe mixes and designs have varied, but the long-established tradition of teamwork, camaraderie and spirited competition has been constant. Teams, their associates, judges and all other participants are expected to maintain and build upon this tradition.”
A team captain and civil engineering senior Jordan Benge said the team was surprised and relieved when the first place announcement was made.
“I think we all were initially in shock and then realized that this meant we got to go to nationals, and everyone just became so excited and started making plans for nationals right after we won,” Benge said.
The concrete canoe competition is more than just constructing a canoe from concrete. The contest includes a design paper, oral presentation and product display. The team also has to create a canoe, within the academic year, that meets dimensional constraints and material guidelines, such as developing a unique concrete mix, and passes a floatation test while competing in five races. The races are women’s and men’s 600-meter endurance (two person), women’s and men’s 200-meter sprint (two person) and co-ed 400-meter sprint (two women and two men).
“I think that our dedication, hard work and a great group of people was what led us to the win,” she said. “Not to brag in any way, but we at NMSU know how to build great concrete canoes.
Team members include Benge, Grace McMurry, Luisa Bannister, Adam Sanchez, Adrianna Erives Gonzalez, Alex Pereda, Carson Casey, David Fricke, Joel Ferguson, Karen Estrada, Jonathan Luna, Tomas Herrera, Remmy Fernandez, Simon Valdez and Victoria Hart.
“The most challenging aspects for the team this year leading up to the regional competition came down to timing and finding the right concrete mixture.”