UE Concrete Canoe Team Headed to Nationals


For the third time in the past four years, the University of Evansville’s Concrete Canoe team has qualified for the American Society of Civil Engineers National Concrete Canoe Competition, held this year at the University of Nevada, Reno from June 14-16.

UE’s team of civil engineering students earned a bid to nationals by placing second in the Concrete Canoe competition at the ASCE Great Lakes Student Conference, held April 19-21 at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. Out of 14 Concrete Canoe teams, UE finished second behind the University of Wisconsin-Madison, narrowly edging out perennial powerhouse the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to advance to nationals.

Up to 24 teams in the United States and Canada qualify for the ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition out of more than 200 civil engineering programs. Last year, UE hosted the competition and was the smallest school ever invited to do so.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our students’ continuing success in the Concrete Canoe competition,” said Mark Valenzuela, associate professor of civil engineering and the team’s faculty advisor. “This year’s team has logged over a thousand person hours designing and building their canoe, ‘Tempest,’ and it was a thrill to watch them outperform some of the nation’s top engineering schools this past weekend. They certainly earned the chance to showcase their work on a national level this summer.”

At the Great Lakes Student Conference, UE placed in all four Concrete Canoe main categories: races, oral presentation, final product, and design paper, with each category contributing equally to the overall final rankings.

UE placed third in the races and the oral presentation (in which teams had five minutes to discuss the design, analysis, construction, project management, and sustainability of their project), second in the final product (which considers adherence to the national design specifications, workmanship, aesthetics, and durability), and first in the design paper.

“UE’s first-place finish in the design paper category demonstrates that our civil engineering students can not only compete at the highest level in the athletic part of this competition, but more importantly, they can hold their own in the academic categories with the top public and private civil engineering programs in the nation,” said Brian Swenty, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering. “One of the hallmarks of the civil engineering program at UE is the emphasis on communication, writing, and presentation skills in addition to technical knowledge. ‘Civil engineers who write well’ may be an oxymoron at many universities, but not UE.”

UE Concrete Canoe team members are Christina Bernauer, Silas Bohlen, Abigail Browder, James Gabe, Luc Heidenreich, Josh Hood, Amanda Hopf, Jamie Johnson, Chris Kuester, John D. Look, Zach Neukam, Hannah Okray, Shannon Osiecki, Heather Passey, Ricardo Paredes Aronsohn, Matt Schutte, Alex Schwinghamer, Katelyn Spainhour (project manager), Ryan Sisk, Susan Smith, Trevor Weaver, and David Wichman. Mark Valenzuela is the team’s faculty advisor, and Immanuel Selvaraj and James Allen are the UE ASCE student chapter’s co-faculty advisors.