Reported August 2007
SEATTLE, Wash. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- You think of concrete in our sidewalks, roads, and homes. But what about using it to make boats? When you're racing canoes made of concrete, it's not only about who's the fastest. How you build them is critical./p>
"In [our boat], we have a big block of foam that's contoured to the canoe," explained Skye Orvis, engineering student at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
"We used spider wire fishing line for reinforcement," said Brian Ferguson, engineering student at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Ky.h
In the 20th annual American Society of Civil Engineers national concrete canoe competition, teams of civil engineering students from the United States and Canada create what seems impossible -- a concrete floating vessel. But it's really nothing new.
"Concrete boats were used during World War II to transport troops back and forth to Europe," said Mike Shydlowski, BASF Race Consultant.
So how does concrete float?
"A cubic foot of water weighs 62-point-4 pounds. A cubic foot of our concrete composite concrete mix weighs 45-point-6 pounds … something real close to that," Ferguson said.
That’s almost 20 pounds lighter than water.
"If you add the foam plus the concrete, it's lighter than water so the whole canoe will float," Orvis said.
The races make up one-fourth of the total team score. The rest is based on skills like design and construction -- all preparation for the workplace.
"The teamwork required, the planning, the execution, the ability to manage a team of workers to present to practicing engineers, to be able to answer questions and sell their product," Shydlowski said.
This year's winner -- the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It's the fifth year in a row the school has won the "America's Cup of Civil Engineering."
The American Society of Civil Engineers contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
Kelly Mawby, Public Information
For more information on concrete canoe competitions near you:
American Society of Civil Engineers
Reston, VA 20191-4400
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