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Concrete canoe paddles into first

April 17, 2014

 

IAN EDWARDS
Staff Reporter

 

Members of the American Society of Civil Engineers swept the competition in the Deep South Regional Concrete Canoe Conference and brought home first place. –Submitted Photo

Members of the American Society of Civil Engineers swept the competition in the Deep South Regional Concrete Canoe Conference and brought home first place. –Submitted Photo

Louisiana Tech’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers recently put their skills and knowledge on display as they brought home first place at the Deep South Regional Concrete Canoe Conference.

 

The conference featured teams from 14 universities throughout the south, said Sal Pellittieri, a senior civil engineering major and team captain.

 

“Each year, ASCE has a regional conference against teams like LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State,” Pellittieri said. “This year, it was held in Memphis, Tenn.”

 

Pellittieri said the competition is broken into four parts.

 

“The competition itself is divided into racing (multiple types), aesthetics, a design paper and a presentation,” he said. “This year, our men and women won first in everything, every single race type included. This will mark the fifth year out of seven that our team has advanced to nationals, which will be in Pittsburgh in June.”

 

Andrew Vicknair, a senior civil engineering major and mix design captain, said his team was able to improve their concrete mix with lots of trial and error.

 

“The past few years, our starting mix ended up being too heavy,” Vicknair said. “It was around 66 pounds per cubic feet, and most of the canoes that compete in regionals and nationals are in the 50s. We managed to get ours down to 54 after about 25 different trials, and our final product emerged with a weight of 146 pounds, which is a solid job.”

 

Vicknair said advancing to nationals carried a certain air of prestige along with it.

 

“It’s almost like playing college football for a year, and when that year is up, being drafted to the NFL,” he said. “Teams come in with more money and bigger groups, which allows them to have a greater variety of aesthetics and overall resources. It’s certainly a high end spectrum, but I feel like we belong there.”

 

Pellittieri said despite Tech being considered one of the high end teams, they were very cost-efficient.

 

“Some of the bigger schools will spend up to $30,000 on their canoes and make it a class project,” Pellittieri said. “All together, we probably spent $1,000, and since this is strictly extra-curricular, I feel like the school is getting a pretty good bang for their buck with us.”

 

Of course, without people to power it, all the hard work would go to waste.

 

Colby Spears, a freshman civil engineering major, was one of the paddlers. Spears said this was not his first introduction to canoe racing.

 

“I, personally, am a marathon canoe racer back home in Bogalusa,” Spears said. “I’ve been a part of a three-time national championship team, and won a 120-mile race in Arkansas with my best friends three years in a row. So when I heard about the competition, I wanted to do my best to help out.”

 

Vicknair said the team was a worthwhile endeavor.

 

“Concrete canoe is definitely a conversation starter,” he said. “The first question we always get in response to what we do is ‘How do you make concrete float?’ It also counts as real-world job experience and looks great on a resume.”

 

Email comments to ije001@latech.edu.

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