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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
We took last year’s (2014) concrete canoe, DiSCovery II, out for a spin this weekend as we finalize our training for the canoe races at PSWC 2015. While this year’s canoe (Jurassic) is slightly different, we chose to keep the design very similar so that we could explore improvements to our paddling technique rather than making drastic changes.
The day started out a bit rough when we realized that we ordered the wrong sized UHaul to take the canoe to the beach. Note for the future: concrete canoes typically require at least a 22′ UHaul; don’t try fitting a 19′ canoe into a 20′ UHaul (bed length ~17′).
Once we made it, we set up buoys and practiced in DiSCovery II alongside the regular (plastic) practice canoes that we borrow from Newport Aquatic Center. All of our race teams practiced together, trying new techniques and making adjustments as needed to get comfortable with paddling in a concrete canoe.
We were surprised to realize that our concrete canoe is capable of being paddled much more quickly than the real canes we usually practice with. Overall we had a great practice and are looking forward to PSWC in less than two weeks!
My name is Ethan Davidson, and I am one of the Concrete Canoe captains this year. I head up the construction and structures sub-teams which have been working hard in preparation for PSWC. Here is a look at some of the things construction has been doing this semester and what we’re working towards.
Our construction sub-team is busy testing mold removal techniques to be used in the construction process of our canoe which is planned tentatively for the end of January. We also just began construction on our canoe stands which will be used for displaying our canoe during competition, and we just finished a practice pour day where we mixed, poured, and cured a section of our canoe to practice all the techniques we will be using during the real pour day in January. A few weeks ago we also got together to destroy Discovery I (one of last year’s canoes) in order to make room for our new construction projects.
If you’re at all interested in learning more about concrete canoe you should come out on Fridays at 3pm to KAP basement to help out, or shoot us an email at email@example.com
My name is Erin, and Ethan and I are super excited to be concrete canoe captains this year! Along with our project manager, Tyler, we can’t wait to meet our members and start building an amazing canoe!
The canoe team is a great way to get involved in ASCE, hang out with some awesome people, and do some fun, hands-on engineering. Through concrete canoe, I was able to meet and become better friends with a lot my fellow civil engineers. We spent a lot of time together, and bonded over two pour days, canoe sanding, paddling practices, and late night finishing right before leaving for San Diego. All of this culminated in one of the most rewarding moments–USC ASCE winning third place overall at PSWC!
If you’re interested in joining the concrete canoe team, we’ll be having our first meeting this Friday, September 12 at 2PM. We’ll be gathering in the KAP lobby and finding a room from there. If you can’t make it out on Friday and want to be added to the mailing list or have any questions, feel free to shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to talk to anyone and keep everyone posted on our upcoming sub-team meetings and paddling practices.
Here’s a video of our co-ed sprint heat from the canoe races at PSWC 2014, courtesy of captain Jake’s parents. This was the first heat we’ve won in years! Our team took advantage of DiSCovery II’s straight speed and their extensive preparation on their way to qualify for the small final. The coed race consists of two down-and-back laps for a total distance of 400 meters.