Iowa State concrete canoe team places 2nd in Midwest

Could you race, let alone stay afloat, in a concrete canoe? That’s what a group of 25 Iowa State engineering students set their minds to as they placed second in the 2012 Midwest Regional Concrete Canoe Competition, held April 20-21 in Platteville, Wisc.

Mechanical engineering senior Kevin Welsh (left) and CE sophomore Josh Leyh paddle the race portion of the 2012 Midwest Regional Concrete Canoe Competition April 20-21 in Platteville, Wisc.

Throughout the year approaching competition, students from the American Society of Civil Engineers student club worked together to design, build, brand and race a concrete canoe. Nicknamed The Kraken, their silver medal vessel was judged on a design paper, an oral presentation, the final product and a race on Black Hawk Lake in Cobb, Wisc. They competed with seven other universities in the Midwest with University of Wisconsin-Platteville hosting.

Senior Mary Burroughs and sophomore Josh Leyh, both in the civil engineering program, were the Iowa State co-captains.

“We have a strong concrete canoe tradition and building techniques that are passed down year to year,” Burroughs says. “Team members work together to produce the best canoe they can.”

The concrete canoe program allows students to develop hands-on engineering skills in a team environment. Younger students learn from older ones on how to work with concrete, conduct fluid analysis and use design software. Older students build leadership and management skills – valuable for an aspiring engineer.

The Iowa State team advanced to national competition in 1992, 2002 and 2003. This and last year they fell just short of advancing to nationals.

Sponsors of the concrete canoe team this year were Shive-Hattery, Iowa Concrete Paving Association, Iowa Ready Mixed Concrete Association, French-Reneker-Associates, Snyder & Associates, HGM Associates, Inc., Bolton & Menk, Inc., Lafarge Corp. and EFCO.