ASCE preps to race cement canoe


The BYU-I American Society of Civil Engineers chapter team members are preparing to build and race a concrete canoe in April 2016.

Norm Reece, the oversight manager and a senior studying civil engineering, said BYU-I’s civil engineering program was approved to hold an ASCE chapter in April 2015.

Ever since then, the ASCE team has been preparing to compete against other universities in the annual Concrete Canoe National Competition.

Reece said the project has been divided into seven varying committees with 15-20 students total working on the project. This will be the university’s first year to enter the competition.

“The challenge in getting the canoe to float is that you gotta’ get a mix that is light enough so that it is not going to sink as soon as you put it in the water,” said Greg Perez, a senior studying civil engineering. “But also, the design has to be enough so that it is buoyant.”

Perez said the project only has a wooden skeleton right now but that it will be the mold for when they pour the cement.

Perez said the team is conducting tests to find the right density and prove that the cement will be durable. He said the canoe is planned to be an inch in thickness to help with the weight factor.

“The volume displaces the water in the right way so that it can float,” Perez said.

Kyle Ellsworth, a senior studying civil engineering, said ASCE is a national competition and has been doing the concrete competition since before 2000.

He said the civil engineering department is around 4 years old at BYU-I and that the ASCE chapter was just recently approved, which is what allows them to participate in the Concrete Canoe National Competition.

Perez said the team will be pouring the cement after finals this semester, and they will leave it to dry over the break. The canoe will be completed by January.

“Once the canoe is built, we have to document everything, write a research paper, technical paper, a display board and a technical board,” Reece said.

He said that 75 percent of the competition comes from the paperwork and presentation side of the project, and the other 25 percent comes from the actual performance of the university’s canoe.

Michael Stutz, a senior studying civil engineering, is in charge of the paper and presentation portion of the project. He said the team has to record how many hours they have put in as well as persuade others that their design and mix is a great grade.

“For me, the biggest challenge has been the fact that this is our first time doing it,” Ellsworth said. “We don’t have really anything to build off of, and so, basically everything that we have done, we have had to learn on our own.”

Stutz said that at the competition, there would be four different races. The four races include two men rowing together, two women rowing together, a man and woman teaming together and sprinting.

Perez said one of the tasks at the competition will be to completely submerge the canoe with 10-pound weights inside, and the canoe has to still be able to float.

“I am not really concerned with winning money for the school; it is just fun, and it’s exciting to do,” Ellsworth said. “It is more rewarding personally than a prize.”

Ellsworth said besides bragging rights, the prizes for winning include a couple of $1,000 scholarships for the winning university.

Reese said the BYU-Idaho ACSE chapter meets in the Auxiliary Services Building located on the west side of the orchards.

Reece said that in order to contribute in the concrete canoe project, students must be an engineering or technology major, but all students may join ASCE.

“ASCE is not just a student organization; it is a professional organization,” Reece said. “So, once we graduate, we will still be members and associate with other engineers and meet regularly.”



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