Professional and Career Topics

  • 1.  What did you learn from building concrete canoes?

    Posted 05-20-2021 11:24 AM

    This article in today's ASCE Source on the 2021 concrete canoe competition caught my attention as this was one of my more memorable activities as an undergraduate. Doing some quick research, the first national concrete canoe competition took place in 1988. My participation in this right of passage was while concrete canoe construction and racing was still at a regional level – and a far less sophisticated activity than it is today.  We built our canoes to race (or more aptly just survive) the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race in Bangor, Maine at a side-event hosted by the University of Maine, Orono. In the two years that I supported or paddled, our canoes were no match for the rapids.

    While I did learn a lot about teamwork, planning, construction, etc. my biggest learning was in the area of pulling a trailer and trailer safety. We managed to get a hold of a canoe trailer my senior year. Unfortunately, we under-appreciated the connection to the van we would use to tow the trailer and the trailer hitch came loose from the van in the middle of Boston during morning, rush hour, traffic. Fortunately, a student-friend's father had the foresight to alert us to the need for a safety chain. This redundant connection acted as a barrier (in safety parlance) and averted what could have been dangerous and disastrous situation. After limping off the expressway and a multi-hour delay– to get a proper hitch installed and the damage to the van's brake line repaired – we were on our way again with no further incidents. It was a life-lesson that I'll never forget.



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    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX
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  • 2.  RE: What did you learn from building concrete canoes?

    Posted 05-24-2021 09:24 AM
    My honors concrete class at the Univ of Illinois, under the direction of Prof Clyde Kessler built a concrete canoe in 1969. We all learned a lot, and it floated, but weighed about 300 lbs. We carried ours in a station wagon. I later built an 18 ft cedar and epoxy model which weighed 100 lbs and I still have it. Rides much better. Same lessons learned. Weight is everything.
    Dale Hinkle
    Class of 71

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    Russell Hinkle P.E., M.ASCE
    Owner
    Whitehall MI
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  • 3.  RE: What did you learn from building concrete canoes?

    Posted 05-24-2021 09:25 AM
    We were doing concrete canoe races at the University of North Dakota back in 1975.  I still have my concrete canoe team shirt; I had it made into part of a blanket with some of my other engineering T-shirts.  I remember hours of breaking up styrofoam into small chunks to use as aggregate.  My team didn't win, but we didn't sink either.  No rapids for us; it was a straight speed race in the University's lagoon.

    Rebecca A. Bowman, Esq., P.E.,
    McMurray, PA

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    Rebecca Bowman P.E., M.ASCE
    Sole proprietor
    Rebecca A. Bowman, Esq., P.E.
    Mc Murray PA
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