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Who are we?

We are the University of Washington Concrete Canoe team.  Every year, we work to design, build, and compete with a new canoe made out of concrete.  Yes, that’s right, our concrete floats!  


Moreover, our concrete actually has to be:

    • lighter by volume than water to meet competition requirement
    • Strong enough to hold tensile and compressive loads due to paddlers racing the canoe
    • Aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound


This poses an incredible design challenge that inspires us as engineering students to apply our studies to come up with some very creative solutions.  Also, as one of the few clubs sponsored by the UW Department of Civil Engineering, the Concrete Canoe team performs a very important social function by both introducing interested students to the department and forming a community of peers within the department.



Each year, teams from around the country (and some abroad) design and build their own concrete canoes to participate in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) National Concrete Canoe Competition.  This competition is implemented at both the regional and national levels.  For a fourth year in a row the UW Concrete Canoe team placed 1st at the Pacific Northwest Regional Conference, earning us an invitation to compete at the national level.  Many generous companies provided us with the funds, materials, and services we needed to participate at the regional competition. We truly appreciate all the support we have received so far. A list of our sponsors can be found at the bottom of this page. Unfortunately, traveling to the June 9th-12th National Competition at the University of Texas in Tyler incurs additional costs that will lead us to exceed our yearly budget. We made the canoe float, now we need your help to get it to the National Competition!


Building the Dream

A lot of hard work goes into making a concrete canoe.  Some of the primary design tasks include:

    • Designing the hull
    • Optimizing and testing concrete mixtures
    • Performing structural and hydraulic analysis
    • Building the mold
    • Creating and implementing a theme
    • Designing and creating display materials, a cross section, and a canoe stand

From this:


To this:


After we have finished the design of the canoe, we enter the construction phase.  We attempted building our own canoe mold from scratch this year, where previous years we had the mold donated to us. This was an enormous challenge that our three construction leads tackled admirably. This phase is centered on one of the most important events of the year: placing day.  This is the day when we actually place the concrete hull. Placing day is an incredible learning experience because it provides students with an opportunity to work with concrete and troubleshoot construction issues that arise. Following placing day, the team spends roughly two months patching, sanding, and completing the canoe.



Gasworks Park and Kite Hill

Originally the site of Seattle Gas Light Company Gasification Plant, Gas Works Park is a reminder of the past and future. The plant was at one point the largest private utility company in Seattle and was located near the University of Washington Campus on Lake Washington. Back in the day, the area “[was]... full of windfalls and brush, impassable even for a canoe, and good only for small-boy fishing...” It was fitting that the area was named “Edgewater”, being encompassed by water. Much like other companies, Seattle Gas Light Company took advantage of the dense forests and access to other lakes. Over time, the gas plant polluted both the soil and groundwater, and was eventually shut down in the 1950’s. After the plant closed, the site was cleaned through bio-phytoremediation and the obsolete oil refractory was gated off to remain an intriguing aesthetic feature. The boiler house was converted into a public space, with sweeping views of downtown Seattle from the South and ample wind for the city’s many kite enthusiasts.



Regional and National Competitions


Both the regional and national competitions are broken up and scored in four distinct categories:

  1. A design paper that fully describes the design, construction methods, and all other work associated with the project

  2. A five minute presentation covering all aspects of the project followed by seven minutes of questions from a panel of engineers

  3. An overall score for the quality of the final product

  4. Five races, including men's and women's sprints, men's and women's endurance, and co-ed sprints.

Our team began preparing for each of the four components in the fall. For example, the paddlers have been practicing bi-weekly since September. The competition goes far beyond simply building a quality concrete canoe. Failing to succeed in any of these categories will dramatically reduce a team’s score.


Cost Breakdown

The expenses required to attend the national competition are significant. Fortunately, the ASCE Seattle chapter, the National ASCE chapter, and engineering firms have promised to contribute additional funds to help offset some of these costs. The primary costs are included in the graph below:



Conclusion

With the stark symbol of Gasworks Park, the UW Concrete Canoe Team aims to remember past achievements and lessons while planning for the future and thinking creatively for enhanced innovation. By building upon knowledge from the 2014-15 conference and competition, the Huskies set precedent for future teams on design, growth, and innovation this year. The University of Washington proudly presents the 2016 concrete canoe, Edgewater.



Thank you so much to our incredible sponsors! None of our work would mean anything if you weren't there to support us first! Thank you!



2015-16 sponsors and donation levels:
Alpha Dawg donated $1,500 or more
Silver Husky donated $1,000
Bronze Dawg donated $750
Partner donated $500



Check out our website here
Our Instagram @uwconcretecanoe
Our Twitter @UWConcreteCanoe


The Freshman Experience 

  Published on Tuesday, May. 31, 2016 at 04:47 AM (PST)

    Joining the Concrete Canoe team as a freshman was one of the best decisions I’ve made this year. What sounded like a ridiculous and amusing club ended up inspiring me and teaching me a lot. It all started for me with a stop at Concrete Canoe’s table at the Student Activities Fair the first week of school. I began by adding my name and email address to the list, and then I asked if there was an application to join. I was told jokingly that I had to write a five-page essay on why I want to join, and at that moment I knew I’d made a good decision.


    I never realized how important having upperclassmen as mentors would be in college. Being a part of this club has given me the chance to interact with older students when I wouldn’t usually have the opportunity. Even though I was just a freshman who didn’t know anything, the upperclassmen were always eager to explain things to me or give me a simple task so that I could contribute to the team in some way with my limited skills and knowledge. They’ve also been very helpful with valuable advice since they were in my position not too long ago. The students I’ve met through canoe have also become inspiring role models for me. I see how passionate they are about designing, building, and competing for our team. They’ve put in hours and hours of work into the project, doing their best to ensure success for our team. I hope one day the other freshmen and I will be able to fill the big shoes they will leave behind when they graduate.




Yes, It Floats! 

  Published on Monday, May. 23, 2016 at 07:44 PM (PST)

To be compliant with the rules of the competition, our concrete along with reinforcing must be lighter than water. That means that even when our concrete canoe is submerged fully (or “swamped”) during the swamp test, it will still float! This ensures the canoe will not sink to the bottom of the lake or river and prevents judges from having to fish out broken pieces of concrete canoes during the race portion of the competition.


Our mix design team this year was made up of fifteen members led by Kim Tsai and Connor Lee. They tested the best way to create lightweight cementitious composites in a student-led class called CEE428 during the fall quarter. They spent about 4 hours on it every week in class, and even more time outside of class.


To learn more about this year’s mix design (that passed the swamp test with ease), I got to ask one of our mix design leads and co-captain, Kim, about her work:



What does the concrete mix consist of?
    Kim: “Concrete is generally made with cement, aggregate (rocks), water, and admixtures. Admixtures are chemicals that change how the concrete works, generally by making it more workable.”


Could you briefly explain the process of how to make concrete float?

    Kim: “Our concrete floats because we add an admixture to make it airy, and we don’t use rocks or gravel aggregate that is used in typical concrete. Instead, we use an expanded glass bead that is very light. With the high air content and lightweight aggregate, our concrete turns out to be around 51 pounds per cubic foot—compared to the density of water at 62.4 pounds per cubic foot.”


How do you test if the mix is less dense than water?

    Kim: “We test our concrete density by measuring the volume of our samples and weighing them. Density = weight/volume! Our final test is to just put the sample in a bucket of water.”


  How did you end up choosing a mix to use for the canoe?  

    Kim: “We made about 32 different concrete mixes this year. Generally, the stronger the concrete is, the heavier it is. We had set a minimum strength and maximum weight that we wanted for our canoe, so from there, we picked a concrete mix that fit those goals.”

    


What is new about the concrete this year?

    Kim: “We added PVA Microfibers to the mix, which helped improve our strength compared to last year’s mix. The microfibers help hold tensile stresses induced in the concrete.”


What was the most challenging part of mix design?

    Kim: “The most challenging part of this year was to be organized and know enough to lead 15 other students when testing out the concrete. Everyone was busy with so many things, so it was important to be consistent each week in order to make progress.”




Paddling 101: How we swept race day! 

  Published on Wednesday, May. 11, 2016 at 08:26 PM (PST)

As you may know, the UW Concrete Canoe Team won the Race Points Category at the PNW Regional Competition. The race component of the competition is made up of five races: men’s endurance and sprints, women’s endurance and sprints, and a co-ed race. After a long, exciting, and eventful day in the sun, our team ended up with four first place finishes, one second place finish, and a few lost voices from cheering on the paddlers from the banks of the river.



The victory at Regionals wouldn’t have been possible without our determined and hardworking paddlers. The paddling lead, Josh Olson, led intense practices every weekend this year. Beginner-friendly open practices started in the fall. The entire team was encouraged to try it out to see if they liked it. The training started to progress as the year went on and the official paddling team was selected during winter quarter.

You’re probably curious about what exactly paddling involves, so I spoke with Ann Albright, who dominated the women’s endurance race at Regionals with teammate Sara Tari. They got the second fastest time in the whole competition for endurance races, after UW’s own men’s endurance team. She gave us a little “Paddling 101”:


How to paddle:

“The paddle is shaped like a spoon, you want the spoon facing away from you so that you can reach as far forward as possible. You twist, look under your top arm, and lean forward to get the furthest reach. Then you use your stomach and back muscles to straighten your body and draw the paddle through the water. This is not a bicep workout, you should be engaging your core.”

Josh, the paddling lead, provided the team with videos to help teach the proper technique. When you first start training, you just work on simple paddling technique. Once your form is second nature, you move into more complex maneuvers for turning.



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Views of Seattle

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Let's go fly a kite

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You con-crete us!

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This gift amount will play a huge role in funding the transportation of our canoe; we can’t compete without getting our canoe to Texas and to the water.

We're on the same boat

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Cover one member’s registration fee ($50 more than last year), so that they can work and grow with their team and other teams at Nationals.

You're making this a walk in the (Gasworks) park

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This gift amount covers the entire cost to transfer our Canoe to Tyler, Texas! Help us see all of our hard work pay off in competition!