NYU Tandon’s concrete canoe team secures first place in regional competition
Heads to finals for the fourth consecutive year
NYU Tandon School of Engineering students triumphed at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Metropolitan Regional Concrete Canoe Competition on April 14, securing first place in the pivotal competition categories devoted to design paper and final product (as well as second place for their oral presentation), and skating (or rather, rowing) to a first-place overall finish. The victory marks the fourth consecutive regional win for the team, setting a new school record.
The ASCE Concrete Canoe competition provides students with a hands-on learning experience in creating, building, and racing a boat constructed from a material most laypeople assume will never float. The competition encourages students to discover concrete’s versatility and explore innovative concrete technology.
This year they had the benefit of a new professional-grade “shotcrete” gun, which allowed them to efficiently apply the material at high velocity, resulting in an enviably uniform surface and eliminating the need for troweling by hand. “We’re very grateful to our department chair, Professor Magued Iskander, for supporting us and providing us with the new equipment,” Carina Tan, the first-year student who served as the team’s safety manager, said. “It improved the quality of our canoe and helped ensure that we would be competitive.”
Iskander has long been a booster of the team. “The competition is a valuable exercise that provides our civil engineering students with an opportunity to apply the principles they learn in the classroom, as well as practice in collaboration and project management,” he said. “We’re proud of their performance and dedicated to giving them any support they need.”
The team also cites Industry Professor Anne Ronan for lending her expertise on fluid mechanics (crucial in designing a stable hull) and Industry Professor Jose Ulerio, who consistently stood ready to help. They owe great thanks, as well, they say, to their faculty advisor, Industry Professor Weihua Jin, who is known for his innovative research into sustainable cement-based materials and the digital fabrication of concrete.
“I’ve advised the team since 2008, so I’m gratified to see them make school history with this record fourth victory in a row,” Jin said. “Innovation is a hallmark of NYU Tandon, and each year they improve upon their previous performance, so I believe there’s no limit to what they can ultimately achieve.”
The judges this year were particularly impressed by the canoe’s mirror-like reflective surface — an effect achieved by assiduous polishing — as well as by the 3D-casted decorative elements, which included shells and leaping koi. “The finish on our canoe really set us apart,” team captain Lara Lin, explained. “That’s something you would generally not see at the regional level, so I’m glad we put effort and focus into that this year. And everyone who saw the final product really loved the concrete koi, which were very intricately detailed.”
In previous years, the team concentrated on the difficult task of making the concrete crack-free and on lessening the weight of the canoe as much as possible — all accomplishments that allowed them to excel against their competitors.
If they have any regrets about this year’s regionals, it is that windy conditions and rough water prevented them from paddling as well as they would have liked during the racing portion of the competition — a set of circumstances that affected all the participating teams.
The entire NYU Tandon community wishes them calm waters and smooth paddling at the upcoming nationals, which are being held in Florida in June.
Si Yun Park