As the Fall Semester drew to a close, so did the first half of preparing for concrete canoe. Members, new and old, spent the day learning how to measure, mix, and place in preparation for the real deal later in January. It is always good to put new ideas to the test before committing to the full project so crucial tests can be performed and adjustments can be made. All the contributions made on Practice Pour Day defined how the actual run will progress on January 28.
Canoe Race day took place at the Marine Stadium in Long Beach, California. It was a great day to paddle, lay on the beach, socialize with friends, and compete! At the end of the day, our team surprised our Canoe Captains by dunking them into the water.
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.
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!
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.
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!
USC ASCE Concrete Canoe Captain
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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.
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.
– 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!
On the 2nd day of PSWC is the Concrete Canoe Race Competition. We competed in the following races:
- Men’s Endurance/Slalom (time-based)
- Women’s Endurance/Slalom
- Men’s Sprints (Heats, Small & Big Finals)
- Women’s Sprints
- Co-ed Double-sprints (4-person)
We are so proud of our paddlers!
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.