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Concrete Paddlers Make Third Trip to Nationals

Bucky Badger looks at concrete canoes

Over the past several years, UW-Madison civil engineering students have earned a reputation as concrete canoe experts. In 1995, they hosted and won the Great Lakes Regional Competition. (large image)

For the third consecutive year, a team of UW-Madison civil engineering students participated in the National Concrete Canoe Competition, June 19-21, in Cleveland, Ohio. The Badger paddlers placed ninth in a competitive field of 25 schools. The Florida Institute of Technology won the competition.

Concrete canoe on Lake Mendota

In 1996 they hosted the national competition, placing 12th. (large image)

Sponsored by Master Builders, Inc., and the American Society of Civil Engineers, the 10th annual event featured some of the nation's brightest students applying the basic laws of physics, advanced engineering and materials science to design and construct concrete canoes that not only float, but are light, fast and extremely maneuverable.

To advance to nationals, teams had to first win a regional competition. UW-Madison secured its position by winning the Great Lakes Regional at Purdue University, placing first in all but one event. The team is advised by Professor James P. Scherz.

Teams were judged on written and oral presentations detailing the design, construction and material composition of their canoes, and by how well they did in a combination of sprint, distance and coed races. Master Builders awards $9,000 in scholarships to the top three teams.

Creative names and themes were abundant at this year's competition. The Madison boat, dubbed "Wisconcrete Woody," was painted by an airbrush artist to look just like a high-quality cedar strip canoe. The artwork was so realistic that some passersby thought the vessel to be an actual wooden boat.