Tandon’s Concrete Canoe team is unsinkable

Concrete Canoe Team 2021

Tandon’s Concrete Canoe team underneath the canoe they built last year which is displayed in Roger's Hall

It came as no surprise that Tandon’s Concrete Canoe team aced the 2021 American Society of Civil Engineers regional competition and headed to the nationals: they were doing so for the fifth straight year in a row.

But what happened at the competition, which challenges students to design, build, and race a vessel that will float — despite being made of a material that laypeople assume would sink upon being placed in water — turned out to be a game-changer. The team, captained by one of the project managers, Wendy Lam, recorded their best finish ever, even in the face of the obstacles presented by the pandemic.

“All of us were forced to work remotely,” Lam explained, “but we still maintained our morale and determination to do our best.” Their best included being the first team ever to use machine learning to optimize concrete mix design, which saved time and effort when it came to calculating the best ratio of materials for structural soundness. The group, inspired by their advisor,  Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering Weihua Jin, also set out to make their design as environmentally friendly as possible, thanks to using concrete that captures CO2 and sequesters it within the material. (In addition to placing better than they ever had before, the team took home honors for enhanced focus areas.)

“It has proven to be a challenging two years for the team,” said Jin. “Last year, they had reached the final stages of curing their canoe when the pandemic hit, and they never got the chance to race what would have been a very competitive vessel. This year they contended with the competition being held virtually, which eliminated the opportunity to actually build and race a canoe. Still, with the support of Department Chair Magued Iskander, the sponsorship of the IDC Foundation, and the strength of the collaborative efforts they made, they set a new Tandon record.”

The team is looking forward to an in-person competition next year and hopes that using everything they learned over the last two years will result in an even stronger, faster canoe. No matter what, they’re used to finding the silver lining in any situation. To see for yourself, just visit the fourth floor of Rogers Hall, where the canoe from last year that they never got to race hangs as a testament to their hard work and skills. With all bets off — and no ASCE rules to follow about the type of paint and decorations they could use — they decided to emblazon their vessel with colorful scenes of the landmarks and neighborhood surrounding the school — proof that concrete canoes and winning teams are definitely #TandonMade.

Learn more about the team, which is part of Tandon’s Vertically Integrated Projects program:

    Team Captains

    • Wendy Lam (Project Manager)
    • Edgar Lei (Project Manager)
    • Joel Mendoza (Machine Learning Captain)
    • Dinuka Ranasinghe (Carbon Negative Captain)
    • Darwin Fermin (Mix Design Captain)
    • Michelle Ren (Mix Design Captain)
    • Carina Tan (Hull Design & Structural Analysis Captain)
    • Wisely Chang Wu (Aesthetics Captain)


    Team Members

    • Maryam Ahmed
    • Shakya Amaratunga
    • David Cuevas
    • Yichen Guo
    • Saimul Hossain
    • Noshin Khan
    • Leon Loi
    • Adiba Miazi
    • Niharika Narenda
    • Vi Nguyen
    • Samantha Noel Rathe
    • Emmalyn Romero
    • Colin Saideman
    • Mark Streminsky
    • Alondra Vera
    • Andre Wu
    • Hao Xian Zheng