STEM College students Begin Work on Concrete Canoe

Students from the STEM College begin work on the annual concrete canoe competition hosted by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Nathan Knapp, the team’s captain, said, “I want to expand my knowledge of the overall concrete canoe competition and pass my experiences to underclassmen. I hope to represent Youngstown State University at the national level.”

Nathan is a senior Civil Engineering student who has worked on the canoe project in the past. His team of eight other students includes Sammie Rovnak, Joe Reedy, Allison McMillen, Kim Klonowski, Mike Kaldy, Sentel Rodgers, Chris Jones, and Dan Phillips. They are working on the initial mix design first by using last year’s formula and improving it to be lighter and less dense. The team is performing a structural analysis to make sure the thickness of their hull design can withhold the pressure. The hull of the canoe can be no more than 22 feet long and 36 inches wide so the students are working to make sure the mix can withstand those dimensions and remain light for optimal racing agility.

The next step is to finish the mold. The cross sections for the mold are cut, and the team will pour the concrete on “place day” in December. Then, it will be sanded down, and a drywall compound will be applied to compliment the finish. Graphics and aesthetics will then be applied, and the students hope to have enough time to practice with it in the water.

The regional competition will take place on March 29-31, 2012 at the University of Pittsburgh where they will compete against other universities across the country and Canada. Schools that have competed in the past include Akron University, Western Kentucky, Ohio State University and Ohio University. The team must prepare a design paper and will also be judged on an oral presentation and the aesthetics of the canoe. Then, they will race it. Last year’s team placed second, and if they win this year, they will advance to nationals held in Nevada. For more information on the competition, visit www.asce.org.

Dr. Scott Martin of Mechanical Engineering is the faculty advisor on the project. He said, “Working on projects like the concrete canoe provides a real opportunity for engineering students to enhance their professional skills. They improve their understanding of the things they learned in their Civil Engineering courses, and also develop communication, teamwork, project management, and time management skills. On top of all that, they have a lot of fun, and gain confidence that they can compete with engineering students from anywhere.”

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