The Catholic University of America

2004 National Concrete Canoe Competition

The Student Chapter of ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) at The Catholic University of America (CUA) will host the 17th annual National Concrete Canoe Competition (NCCC) in cooperation with ASCE and Master Builders, Inc (MBT). The Competition will take place in Washington, D.C. from Thursday, June 17 to Sunday, June 20.

Each year most student chapters of ASCE at the universities in the United States elect to participate in this Competition. The students build a canoe out of concrete, reinforced according to certain, preset rules. The concrete mix and the reinforcement have to meet a set of challenging specifications, and these specifications change every year. Thus, canoes from previous years do not qualify for the current year's competition. The canoe has to be long enough (typically 19-22 ft) to carry a maximum of four persons, who will paddle it in one of the races. To be sure that canoes that break, leak excessive water, or capsize do not end up on the ocean bottom, all canoes must pass a "swamp test." In this test the canoes are intentionally dunked and filled with water, and they have to float, full of water. In earlier years, two feet of lightweight styrofoam was allowed in each end of the canoe to help flotation. This has not been allowed in recent years. Thus, the concrete mix has to be sufficiently light that canoes made of reinforced concrete will float without assistance from artificial flotation devices. Last year's canoes weighed from 80 to 230 lb. The entire NCCC event is governed by 47 pages of detailed Rules and Regulations set out by ASCE/MBT.

The students usually begin to work on the optimum concrete mix (within competition rules) and the design of the canoe shape during the Fall semester (first semester of the academic year), and the canoe is not fabricated until the Spring semester (second semester), just before the regional races are taking place. Although the water is cold in many regions of the United States, regional competitions are held from March to May, and the subsequent National Competition is arranged during the second half of June by a previously designated ASCE Student Chapter.

Each Student Chapter belongs to one of 18 regions of ASCE in the United States. With competition in each region, the 18 winners are invited to represent their region at the National Competition. In addition, concrete canoe entries are invited from Canada, and on some occasions, last year's host of the National Competition is also participating (if they did not qualify in their region or choose to participate last year).

Thus, in the beginning of the week of Monday, June 13, 2004, a total of about 25 winning concrete canoes and their several crews are expected to point their noses towards Washington, D.C., where they will all gather on Thursday night (June 17) in the parking lot next to Pangborn Hall, the home of Civil Engineering at Catholic University. The student crews and their advisors are invited to stay in the dormitories at Catholic University during the entire competition, and most meals will originate from the cafeteria in Pryzbyla University Center, the home of the student organizations at CUA. On the night of arrival, all participants are invited to a dinner/dance sponsored by the Department of Civil Engineering and The Catholic University of America.

The venue for part of the National Concrete Canoe Competition will be the National Building Museum (located at the Judiciary Square Metro station on the Red line, 3 stops from CUA). This Competition will be one of three events under the umbrella of "Celebrating Concrete!" The other events, also occurring at the National Building Museum, will be an exhibit on "Liquid Stone," sponsored by LaFarge, one of the largest cement producing companies in the world, and a "hands-on" CONCRETE CARNIVAL.

The 3 days of Competition begin on Friday morning and end on Sunday night with an Awards Banquet. The competition has several components relating to design, construction, presentation of fabrication of the canoe, and the races themselves. On Friday, the team captains meet, the Flotation/Swamp Tests occur, and the canoes are judged for their aesthetic appearance at the National Building Museum. This is followed by an evening Ice Breaker for all the participants. Saturday is earmarked for canoe display and academic presentations of each canoe design and construction in addition to some "hands-on" concrete activities, also at the National Building Museum.

The very canoe races will occur on Sunday morning and early afternoon, most likely on Lake Fairfax, located in the western part of the Metropolitan Washington area near the ASCE headquarters and the Dulles International Airport. If the Tidal Basin, located between the National Mall and the Jefferson Memorial becomes available, then the venue for the Competition will change to that location. The five canoe races consist of woman's slalom/endurance (2 women), men's slalom/endurance (2 men), women's sprint (2 women), men's sprint (2 men), and co-ed sprint (2 men and 2 women). The Awards Banquet, at which trophies will be presented to the winners, will be held Sunday night in the National Building Museum.

For more information on the ASCE/MBT National Concrete Canoe Competition, visit the Department of Civil Engineering website at or the Master Builders, Inc. website at "". Additional information is available from:

Panos Tsopelas, Associate Professor Poul V. Lade, Professor and Chair

Advisor, ASCE Student Chapter Department of Civil Engineering

Department of Civil Engineering The Catholic University of America

The Catholic University of America Washington, DC 20064

Washington, DC 20064 (202) 319-5164/6942, Fax (202) 319-6677

(202) 319-5165, Fax (202) 319-6677