Category Archives: Concrete Canoe

Six Concrete Canoes

This poem is a reflection on our past four years of concrete canoes. A song form is also in progress.

Six concrete canoes float
   on the water
Six concrete canoes rest
   out on the grass
Four raced, were paddled boldly
   four concrete canoes raced
Battled fiercely, but never victorious.

Every last pound mixed and placed by hand
   built by hand
Countless hours endless energy;
   night after night, worked through the night
Covered in concrete, but building six canoes.

Six concrete canoes float
   in the water
Six concrete canoes rest
   out on the grass
Two broken, one beautiful and bright, and colorful;
   two demolished were unwanted
Two more concrete canoes remain;
   but each new year, a new canoe
So these soon will be gone too;
   for now six concrete canoes.

Final Prep for PSWC 2016

All of our design teams are busy making final preparations for PSWC 2016. With less than a week before conference, the KAP basement is full of activity from everyone from steel bridge working on final fabrication and assembly, concrete canoe preparing the stands, section, and display table, geotech building their box, surveying practicing, and environmental finishing their system. We’re excited to showcase our work in Long Beach next week!

The environmental team work on their filtering system.
The environmental team works on their filtering system.
The concrete canoe team tests out their new, reusable folding wood canoe stands.
The concrete canoe team tests out their new, reusable folding wood canoe stands.
Geotech captain Marissa measures the geowall box.
Geotech captain Marissa measures the geowall box.
Steel bridge team members discuss how to manufacture a part.
Steel bridge team members discuss how to manufacture a part.
Steel bridge members at work.
Steel bridge members at work.
The steel bridge box where pieces are transported.
The steel bridge box where pieces are transported.
The steel bridge team takes a brief break to pose for a photo.
The steel bridge team takes a brief break to pose for a photo.
Pieces of the Steel Bridge are laid out.
Pieces of the Steel Bridge are laid out.
Surveying team members practice in E-Quad.
Surveying team members practice in E-Quad.

Pour Day 2016

I first joined concrete canoe my sophomore year because I was drawn to the aesthetic component of designing and staining the canoe. Little did I know how much of a large part of my time at USC concrete canoe would become. Two and a half years and multiple canoes later, I’ve successfully finished my fifth–and hopefully final–pour day. The feeling is a little bittersweet, but first and foremost, my co-captain Karina and I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who showed up to help us out (this is the first year that the entire ASCE eboard came out!). We made a few changes in the weeks between our first and second pour days, and the small alterations really made a huge difference in the process and final product.

This year, our canoe is named That ’70s Canoe, and aptly displays the vibe and colorful culture of the 1970s. The rule change this year banned the use of stains, so we incorporated colors in our own way by creating a tie-dye design and using precast concrete tiles to display a rainbow mosaic peace sign and flowers in the interior of the canoe. The pour day process to get all of our aesthetic components done was a long one–captains showed up to KAP at 8AM with the rest of the team arriving around 9AM, and we covered the canoe to wet cure at 12AM. There were a lot of ups and downs throughout the day, but everyone pushed ahead, and we were able to successfully complete the process, with the remaining members topping the night off with some celebratory midnight ice cream sundaes!
As a graduating senior, I’ve been heavily involved in 5 pour days now, and although it is a rigorous process, it feels a little strange to have completed the last one. Concrete canoe has taken up a huge chunk of my free time for the past two and a half years, but it has allowed me to meet some super amazing people and some of my best friends (that can also help me with my homework). I’m extremely proud of what we accomplished so far this year, and I can’t wait for the months to come and for PSWC!

Concrete Canoe December 2015 Update

The first half of Concrete Canoe 2015-2016 is officially over! We’re really excited about all of the new members that got involved this semester, and can proudly say that we poured our practice canoe! We spent the first Saturday after classes ended working hard in the KAP basement to mix, pigment, and place concrete to create a full-scale practice canoe. With all of the rule changes and new ideas we’re trying this year, we wanted to practice some techniques before pouring the real canoe for competition! Not to mention, the practice canoe will give our paddlers a great chance to paddle in the canoe they’ll be racing in just 3 short months at PSWC. We had a group of great people helping out at practice pour day (warmest thanks to those who showed up!), and we’re all super excited to see what our colored concrete looks like once we de-mold the canoe when we get back to school in January!

Overall, it has been a great semester full of great ideas and great people, and we’re looking forward to see what next semester has in store for us!

Erin Yamashita
USC ASCE Concrete Canoe Captain

Concrete Canoe October 2015 Update

ASCE’s Concrete Canoe design is off to a great start! We are excited about all the new members that have joined and consistently come to our meetings! Each week we hold sub team meetings for structures, aesthetics, mix design and construction in addition to our paddling practices every Sunday.

This year there have been some major changes in the rules for the competition, as a result altering our approach to the canoe design. The most significant change is that we are no longer able to use any type of paint or stains on the canoe, therefore we must pigment the concrete itself in order to create the design. In the past couple of weeks, aesthetics has finalized the theme for this year’s concrete canoe and presentation display, which we are excited to announce as DiSCo.

After determining the preliminary design for the actual canoe, the team has begun to research into different potential pigments we can use to achieve the look we want. Structures has been a combination of an introduction to statics for the younger members who have not been exposed to those concepts yet, as well as solving for the moment and shear for various required loading cases.

The mix design sub team started off by going over a comprehensive review of the components of a concrete mix followed by diving into making mixes every week. We have come closer to deciding the final mixes we plan on using for the different structural layers and now we are focusing on the optimal way to integrate the pigment into the mix. Additionally, we are testing different techniques to depict the desired graphics on the canoe, so the mix design and construction sub-teams have been working on producing these elements and testing their construction and application methods. 

Even with the new challenges the team is faced with this year, we are confident that we will once again produce a successful concrete canoe and have fun while doing it!

PSWC 2015 Results

The results are in and one thing is clear — USC ASCE is now a dominant force in the ASCE Pacific Southwest Conference. A year after a shocking 3rd place overall rank at PSWC 2014, our biggest, strongest, most promising team in recent history has repeated with a 3rd place overall finish at PSWC 2015, hosted by the University of Arizona.

Ultimate Frisbee team with their 1st place award.
Ultimate Frisbee team with their 1st place award.

An overall placing at PSWC is no small feat. Over twenty events contribute to the overall composite score, and 18 universities vie for victory in each and every one. USC ASCE has records of placing third overall at PSWC only twice (2014, 1994) in our 91-year history, and we believe that we’ve never placed higher with this many schools in our conference. This is truly a special moment for our organization and our members.

Quiz/Family Feud Team with their 3rd place award.
Quiz/Family Feud Team with their 3rd place award.

Seven of our competition teams placed top-three and all events contributed to our overall finish. I’ll now break down the results for each of our eight design teams, followed by a summary of our placings in all of the smaller events.

Concrete Canoe

2015 Concrete Canoe Team Photo with our canoe, Jurassic
2015 Concrete Canoe Team Photo with our canoe, Jurassic

Last year’s concrete canoe team established itself as a solid contender with the 6th place finish of DiSCovery II, following a 14th place finish in 2013. This year, the team continued to improve with an even stronger canoe, Jurassic.

3rd Place in Concrete Canoe Design Paper!
3rd Place in Concrete Canoe Design Paper!

A new effort to better understand the structural analysis of concrete canoes contributed strongly to a repeat 3rd place finish in the design paper category, as well as a much-improved 6th place finish in oral presentation. While the smallest of omissions in the engineer’s notebook lead to a significant deduction in the final product category and our slightly modified hull design and logistical constraints with practicing lead to  lower placings in three races than last year, our women’s sprint team finished 4th and our women’s endurance team placed 6th. Overall, our team placed 5th with Jurassic, a one-place improvement over last year.

Steel Bridge

2015 Steel Bridge Team with their assembled bridge.
2015 Steel Bridge Team with their assembled bridge.

This year’s bridge team created an incredibly innovative design featuring a complex connection system that allowed the team to optimize cost, weight, and constructability. The design proved to be time consuming to fabricate, but our dedicated team pulled several consecutive all-nighters, including two in Tucson, to complete their bridge in time for the competition.

Despite only having time for two practice runs, the team put on an impressive show in the bridge assembly stage, highlighted by a novel technique of building most of the bridge over the “land” before swinging it around on a pivot to complete construction. The 14:46 assembly time is one of our best in recent memory. Unfortunately, during assembly, a single washer fell off from one of the members—the washers were used to bolt together the members, as per the competition rules. Because of this, the bridge did not meet the requirements and forced a disqualification. But it should be noted that many, many teams are disqualified from the steel bridge competition for various reasons (13 of the 17 universities at PSWC 2015, in fact), and that result does not diminish the quality of the product that our team produced. Our 2015 bridge is one of the best we’ve created and we’re excited to see what next year’s team will do to build on it.

Environmental

2015 USC Environmental Team with their water filtration system.
2015 USC Environmental Team with their water filtration system.

Our environmental team put on a strong showing this year with their water treatment system. They built an impressive structure to house the varying stages of systems and presented their results very professionally. The filtration system was reportedly successful in its initial results, pending further analysis by the judges. In the end, the team placed 8th, giving us a significant contribution to the overall point total and also leaving plenty of room to continue improving in future years.

Geowall

The 2015 Geowall team poses with their loaded box.
The 2015 Geowall team poses with their loaded box.

The Geotechnical Engineering competition this year proved to be a challenge for many participants. Teams built a three-sided retaining wall out of paper. Unfortunately our team’s wall was unable to  hold the weight of the sand when the box was opened due to a variety of factors. But the team put in a good effort, seen in aspects ranging from their strong presentation poster to their meticulously-designed Trojan-themed box. Looking to next year, the team is excited to see what they can do with the knowledge gained from this year’s efforts.

Surveying

2015 USC Surveying Team.
2015 USC Surveying Team.

For the first time in many years, our surveying team sought not only to learn enough to get by, but to actively learn various aspects of surveying to further both their individual abilities and the team’s success. Weekly practices throughout the semester and the help of a graduate advisor lead to a strong 6th place finish that contributed significantly to our overall 3rd place finish.

Dog House

The 2015 USC Dog House Team poses with their food-truck-themed dog house: "A Trip Around LA".
The 2015 USC Dog House Team poses with their food-truck-themed dog house: “A Trip Around LA”.

A new competition this year, the dog house team sought to build a creative and functional home for a deserving dog that featured a geographically relevant theme. Our result was a spacious wooden structure themed “A Trip Around LA”, featuring food trucks and the food truck culture that is evocative of Los Angeles. Making another significant contribution to the overall point total, our team finished in 6th place. After the competition, our dog house was donated to a local animal shelter, which will be auctioning it off as a fundraiser. We’re excited to have this opportunity to support the local Tucson community and create a new home for a special dog.

Concrete Bowling

The Concrete Bowling Team poses with their Spongebob-themed ball.
The Concrete Bowling Team poses with their Spongebob-themed ball.

While this year’s concrete bowling received a “participation” score, their perfectly-round “sponge-ball” was extremely well-executed and well-received. The team is already planning extensive efforts to better prepare themselves for next year now that they have a solid year to build off of.

Complete Scores

Our talent show team placed 3rd with a stunning rendition of "Something Big" featuring an original dance.
Our talent show team placed 3rd with a stunning rendition of “Something Big” featuring an original dance.

Our team competed in every event at PSWC 2015, and every point mattered in our 3rd place finish, winning by only 15 points. Four of this year’s teams placed 1st and three teams placed 3rd, the highest number of individual event awards in our recorded history.

Scavenger hunt captains with their 1st place award.
Scavenger hunt captains with their 1st place award.
Mystery Event Team with their 1st place award.
Mystery Event Team with their 1st place award.
Talent Show Team with their 3rd place award
Talent Show Team with their 3rd place award.
  • Concrete Canoe: 5th
    • Design Paper: 3rd (repeat)
  • Steel Bridge: DQ
  • Technical Paper: 1st
  • Geotech: participated
  • Environmental: 8th
  • Surveying: 6th
  • Dog House: 6th
  • Transportation: participated
  • Quiz/Family Feud: 3rd
  • Scavenger Hunt: 1st (repeat)
  • Concrete Bowling: participated
  • Mystery Event: 1st
  • Ultimate Frisbee: 1st
  • Basketball: participated
  • Soccer: participated
  • Talent Show: 3rd
  • Impromptu: participated
  • Kan Jam: participated
  • Tug of War: participated

Overall

Sylvia Tran, 2015 USC ASCE Technical Paper Author, with her 1st place award.
Sylvia Tran, 2015 USC ASCE Technical Paper Author, with her 1st place award.

I began this post with an explanation of our 3rd place overall finish. But I want to once again emphasize the importance of the contributions each and every one of our teams made. Every single point counts, and our team truly gave this conference their all, fighting through challenges ranging from limited time and budgets to broken noses in the basketball tournament. The shear effort put forth by our team represents a unbelievably solid commitment to our school, our chapter, and each other.

Celebration after placing 3rd overall at PSWC 2015.
Celebration after placing 3rd overall at PSWC 2015.
PSWC Co-chairs Lucy and Nick with USC ASCE President Winston and our *3rd place overall award.
PSWC Co-chairs Lucy and Nick with USC ASCE President Winston and our *3rd place overall award.

With such an amazingly successful year now complete, it’s hard to imagine what the future may hold. One of the most exciting parts of this year’s team is the number of underclassmen, including seven freshmen, we had. Only twelve seniors on this year’s team are graduating, and while they all played significant roles, we’re better prepared than ever to have younger members fill their shoes. With such a strong base of returning members, all eager to recruit others to join us as well, we can only imagine where we’ll be a year from now.

USC ASCE PSWC 2015 Team with all eight of our awards.
USC ASCE PSWC 2015 Team with all eight of our awards.

– Nick Halsey

USC ASCE 2014-2015 Sponsorship/Conference Co-chair

 

P.S. this is exactly my 100th post on this blog. The website and our club have come an amazingly long way since I first built this site in my freshman year (2013), and I’m excited to see where we go from here!

PSWC 2015: Concrete Canoe, Steel Bridge, and Dog House Aesthetics

Our team woke up bright and early to set up our concrete canoe, steel bridge, and dog house aesthetics displays at the University of Arizona. Aside from engineering, each of these competitions are also judged on aesthetics and presentation. This also provided students at the University of Arizona a chance to see our work.

Saturday Night PSWC Prep

We’re all working hard to get everything ready for PSWC 2015. Our Concrete Canoe, Steel Bridge, Geotechnical, Dog House, and Concrete Bowling teams are all putting in long hours today in the KAP Basement, and everyone’s super excited for conference!