URI concrete canoe team wins seventh consecutive
Students prepare for national competition, June 24
KINGSTON, R.I., -- June 7, 2002 -- University of Rhode Island civil engineering students paddled their way to their seventh consecutive New England regional concrete canoe championship, held this year at the University of Maine.
URI competed against 13 universities to win a spot in the national competition at the University of Wisconsin on June 24. The event is sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and Master Builders, Inc.
Teams are rated based on their performance in nine different categories. Thirty percent of the final score is based on the results of five races, with the remainder based on a technical paper, oral presentation, exhibit booth display, and the canoes physical appearance. URI placed first or second in seven of the nine categories. Each canoe also had to pass a "swamp test," which involved filling the canoe with water and testing its ability to float, according to North Providence resident Jim Primeau, president of the URI chapter of the national civil engineering society.
The students began to design the canoe last fall, with construction starting in January. The first step was construction of a foam mold. To build an exact replica of their computer-designed canoe, the team divided the mold into 2-inch sections and aligned it with a computer printout of the design. Concrete was then poured over the mold in layers. The outer layers consist of a "heavy mix" of concrete for stability, while the inner layers are a lighter mix of concrete and ecospheres, glass microballoons used in place of sand to reduce the weight of the canoe. Between each layer is carbon fiber or fiberglass for reinforcement.
Using a Harley Davidson theme, the team named the canoe Rhode Hog and painted it black with orange lettering. It is 20 feet, 8 inches long and weighs 140 pounds.
The canoe is longer than in previous years to improve its ability to maintain a straight course, and the bottom is more curved to reduce surface area. "The canoe resembles a kayak. The hull is more rounded to improve its racing capabilities," said Dan Szymanski, team co-captain from Burrillville.
In preparation for the national competition, the team is focusing on fundraising. "Some of the schools were competing with have huge sponsors like 3M," said Primeau. So the URI team has begun sending letters to local engineering firms and construction companies seeking donations.
"I see teams with their own trailers, more than one canoe, all the testing equipment they want, free transportation, and uniforms. Weve won regionals the past six years in a row and were not even close to having any of that," said Szymanski.
The students have also designed their own T-shirts and are selling them to raise additional funds for the contest. "Weve done so well because of the dedication of the people working on the canoe," said Primeau. "We want to make the University look good."
In addition to Primeau and Szymanski, team members include: Scott Herold of Bloomington, Minn.; Jason Clough of Bradford, Vt.; Matt Crowley of Charlestown; Chuck Restall of Coventry; Joe Baker and Brian Stewart of Cranston; Joey Fonseca of Framingham, Mass.; Anthony Pastore of North Kingstown; Jaklyn Dextradeur of North Providence; Jen Cotungo of Tribes Hill, N.Y.; and Jeremy George, Paul Jacques and co-captain Julie Walker of Warwick.
For Information: Todd McLeish 401-874-7892, Nicole Duguay 401-874-2504