The ASCE sponsored New England Regional Concrete Canoe Competition is a two-day event held annually for competing universities from across the New England region and Canada. As a qualifier for the National Concrete Canoe Competition, each team must design and construct a canoe made of specially designed concrete. Teams spend the entire school year planning and building these sleek racing canoes that are put to the test in a judging of both build quality and performance on the water. Additionally, the teams are required to submit formal design papers of their canoes and processes as well as present a professional level presentation. This grueling competition takes many hours to prepare for in addition to the students’ academic careers.
A member of TFM’s Structural Engineering Department Jon Nadeau, traveled to the competition to spectate the fierce competition and to support his home team UMass Lowell. During Jon’s time studying at Lowell, he aimed to help excel Lowell’s presence at the competition and succeed with Lowell’s first place finish in 2013 (the best the team had done since 1994), second place in 2014, and first again in 2015, resulting in two trips to the national competition. With a passion for the canoe competition, Jon was excited to see what had been made this year and was proud that Lowell kept the team spirit alive.
Additionally, a member of TFM’s Civil Engineering Department, Maureen Kelly, who worked alongside Jon on the team, also arrived to show her support for the team at the races. Having been both a successful project manager and national competition racer herself, she was impressed by the team’s performance and is looking forward to what the team shows up with next year.
This year’s competition was held at the University of Connecticut with a total of 11 teams appearing. The first day canoes were put on display along with teams’ display boards, showcasing engineering designs, artwork, concrete samples, as well as many other things. Teams inspect and converse about each others’ work, asking questions, taking notes, and learning for next year. Following the judging period, representatives from each team give their presentations explaining everything they’ve learned throughout the year.
The following morning teams gather at the race site for an all-day display of speed and agility. Held this year at Mansfield Hollow State Park, teams loaded their canoes into the water, being careful to not damage their performance hulls, and prepared for the swamp test. As a popular phrase for the canoe teams is “Yes, it floats”, the teams must successfully prove their canoes with float in the swamp test by completely submerging their canoes underwater and letting them return to the surface unaided for two minutes. After proving their buoyancy, races began and lasted for the next 7 hours.
Racers displayed their skills on the water navigating the tight hairpin turn sprint races and lengthy endurance races, some overcoming glancing blows with each other and some suffering hard collisions. After the races concluded, the panel of judges convened to tally points to determine the final score. This year’s overall winner was the Canadian school Université Laval with their Formula 1 themed entry “LCC22”, followed closely in second by University of Massachusetts Lowell‘s entry “Jester”, and third Northeastern University’s entry “NU Orleans”.