Concrete Canoe embarks on 2017 competition season

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 | By Lindsay Cashin

After addressing some unique challenges presented by this year’s design requirements, the UBC Concrete Canoe team is set to embark on the 2017 competition season. First, the team will be represented at the American Society for Civil Engineering (ASCE) Pacific Northwest 2017 Student Conference, happening at Boise State University, April 20-22. Later, they will participate in the CSCE Canadian National Concrete Canoe Competition, happening in Quebec City at the University of Laval, May 11-13. The canoe was successfully cast in early March, and thanks to an innovative new design this year, the vessel shows promise for a strong performance at the competitions.

The team faced a unique challenge this year when the competition rules around the concrete mix design were unexpectedly changed, demanding a different kind of aggregate. Under the new rules, it was more difficult to mix concrete that would float. It took the teams upwards of twelve batches of concrete to find the perfect mix.

In addition to persistence in the mix design process, the team showed innovation in the face of other opportunities for improvement. They approached this year’s design with the motivation to make the canoe stronger and more stable. Rather than thickening the body of the canoe to increase strength, the team opted to add certain structural elements, such as ribs, and to thicken the gunnel (the upper side edges of the vessel). Also, some steel and carbon-fibre reinforcements were incorporated in specific areas to minimize weight at the points where the highest stresses occur. Another innovation in the team’s approach this year was the use of a male mold, meaning the canoe is formed around the outside of the mold, instead of a female mold, where the canoe is formed within; making for an entirely different casting process.

The team aims to place in the top three overall, and to achieve first place in presentation; goals that are ambitious but within reach for this high performing team which last year placed fifth overall, and first in the oral competition at the ASCE competition. Out of a total of 52 team members, mostly representing Civil Engineering, nine will be travelling on behalf of UBC Concrete Canoe to the ASCE competition in Boise. Twelve team members will represent at next month’s Canadian National Competition in Quebec City. This year’s theme is “The Eh Team,” a nod to the team’s Canadian home base.

UBC Civil Engineering wishes UBC Concrete Canoe best of luck at the competition!