ICT Faculty Member and Graduate Students Involved in National Concrete Canoe Competition

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently hosted the 2013 National Concrete Canoe Competition and ICT researcher Jeffery Roesler and graduate students Armen Amirkhanian and Angeli Gamez advised the University of Illinois team.

The Illinois team didn’t finish in the top of the competition, but competing at nationals was a great learning experience. Amirkhanian, who was the team’s graduate advisor, was pleased with the team’s performance.

“I think they did really well, considering that they’re a very young team, they had never been to nationals before, and at regionals they were unable to compete in the races. At regionals, the races were canceled due to flooding—which is kind of ironic,” Amirkhanian said.

The schools finishing in the top five in the 2013 competition were École de technologie supérieure of Montréal, Québec; the University of Nevada, Reno; the University of Florida; California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; and Utah State University. The Illinois team finished 22nd, but team members said they considered it an honor just to compete at the national level.

The three-day event brought nearly two dozen custom made concrete canoes from across the country. Teams displayed their canoes on the Bardeen quad, made presentations about their designs and answered questions from judges, and culminated with concrete canoe races at Homer Lake.

The phenomenon of concrete canoeing started in 1971 when University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Civil and Environmental Engineering professor Clyde Kesler started a class project intended to illustrate how to use concrete as a building material. Purdue University got wind of the project and challenged Illinois to a friendly race, which took place at Kickapoo State Park in Oakwood, Illinois. Winning two of the three races, Illinois students declared themselves the 1971 world champions. Flash forward to today, and concrete canoeing is now an officially sanctioned event by the American Society of Civil Engineers. More than 200 teams across the country compete in regional competitions for the honor of advancing to the national competition.

Above: Illinois Concrete Canoe Team members Robert Butler (front) and Min Yin compete in the men’s slalom/endurance competition.