The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

May 20, 2012

UPJ’s concrete canoe team paddles to nationals

— Twenty Pitt-Johnstown students are taking their concrete canoe all the way to the national competition.

The university’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers concrete canoe team won the ASEC Mid-Atlantic Regional Concrete Canoe championship, held April 28 at Lafayette College, and have earned the right to advance to the ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition that will be held June 14-16 in Reno, Nev.

This is the team’s fourth consecutive national competition appearance.

“A lot of schools we compete against are huge schools with big budgets and a lot of students, so for a small organization like ours it’s quite awesome,” said Brian Houston, the team’s adviser.

While at the regional competition, the UPJ team competed against squads from the Penn State, University of Maryland, Drexel University, Temple University and University of Delaware.

Competitors were evaluated based on the engineering design and construction principles used in the creation of the canoe, a technical design report that details the design, testing and construction of the canoe, a formal presentation on the canoe’s design and construction and the performance of the canoe in the race portion of the competition.

“You can’t miss anything, and if you falter in one area, you wouldn’t win regionals, and the national competition is even tougher,” Houston said. “We have a pretty good team and they are highly motivated to do well.”

This year’s canoe is called “MiraCoal” in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Quecreek mine rescue. It features the silhouette of a miner and his headlamp on the exterior along with the silhouette of nine miners against a sunrise on the interior of the canoe.

The boat is 18.5 feet long, one-half inch thick and weighs approximately 240 pounds.

“It takes an entire school year to design and a lot of man hours – it’s no small task,” Houston said.

The NCCC provides students with a practical application of the engineering principles learned in the classroom. The program also helps students develop team and project management skills they will need in their careers.

Winners of the national competition will be determined by compiling the team’s total number of points from the academic and race portions of the competition.

Academic scholarships will be awarded to the winning team’s undergraduate civil engineering program.

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