Gilmore Jenkins, captain of the concrete canoe team and a junior studying civil engineering, in an interview, describes the project.
Q: What is the concrete canoe competition?
A: There’s a competition that is nationwide put on by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the ASCE and schools all across the country. They have chapters within the school that form a society, and one of the activities that we do is we compete by building and designing a concrete canoe. Then we go and we travel all the different schools, travel … different schools every year and show off what we’ve done, compete against each other. We raced the canoes, and that’s in short what the concrete canoe competition is.
Q: Why does BYU-Idaho participate in this competition?
A: Because it’s a great experience for the students to network with other students across the region and to apply things that they’ve learned from different classes throughout their education. It gives them an opportunity to learn how to use concrete, to design concrete and to figure out that process, which is a big step up as far as progressing into the workforce after graduation. Concrete is used in everything from buildings to bridges. We walk on sidewalk everyday that’s made out of concrete. There’s huge applications for it, and so it’s very important that we learned that and this is a fun way of progressing in that direction.
Q: How do you build a concrete canoe?
A: Well, you would like anything. You start by designing it, which in engineering that’s a big part of what we do is designing things to make sure they’re safe and usable and functional. We start by designing a hole for the canoe or the shape of the canoe and decide how big it’s got to be. The next step is you design the concrete, the actual stuff that’s gonna be made out of, and concrete, when you think of it, is typically a pretty heavy substance.
It’s got to be strong enough to actually hold together. Then we decide what kind of reinforcement is going to go in it. Concrete by itself is pretty brittle, so we have to make a mold. We basically make a shape … of the outside of the canoe, but slightly smaller. The thickness of what we want our concrete to be smaller so that we can then put concrete on the outside of that and create a shell and then once the concrete cures we’ll pull that mold out.
Now if we planned and designed correctly, it won’t break, and so far, we’ve done pretty good.
Q: What are some challenges with this project?
A: Staying on schedule towards the beginning of the project. We come up with a basic schedule, but things come up, sometimes it’s hard to stay on schedule. And that’s one of the things that this is designed to teach us as civil engineers is how to come up with a schedule and how to stay on it.
Q: What are the valuable things that you’ve learned from this project that you’ll use in your future career?
A: This project really reiterate how important is to submit paperwork, on a certain day to somebody else that we don’t even know, we have to make sure it’s emailed off and they’re on time, and if it’s not on time then we get penalized for it or we don’t get to take the canoe. It’s just doesn’t get to go because it doesn’t qualify even if it’s finished because the paperwork wasn’t submitted, and keeping careful track and careful notes of what’s done so that paperwork is easier to fill out and the report that comes out that goes along with it’s easy to do and right. That’s a major part of the project and the real world outside of school.