Civil engineering students from across the United States and Canada met in Montreal in June for the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) 21st Annual National Concrete Canoe Competition. The University of Nevada, Reno captured its first ever national Concrete Canoe title. Its 19.5-foot-long, 160-pound, white canoe with blue and silver stain defeated entries from top engineering schools from across the country, and ended the University of Wisconsin—Madison’s five-year winning streak. The win marks the end of three days of competition and more than a year’s worth of blood, sweat and tears for the team in its bid to capture the ’America’s Cup of Civil Engineering.’

"Over the past three days, these intrepid civil engineering students have shown that technical skills combined with an innate sense of creativity can turn a seemingly impossible task into a reality," said ASCE President David G. Mongan, P.E., F.ASCE. "With the innovative thinking we’ve seen in Montréal, I can’t wait to see what’s to come from these students in the future as they begin their professional careers."

The team’s closest competitors were the University of California, Berkeley and host school, École de technologie supérieure. The University of California, Berkeley paddled into second place with the gray, black, and red, 229-pound, 19.92-foot-long VoCal—a tribute to the ’Free Speech Movement.’ École de technologie supérieure finished a close third with the gray, green, and black, 170-pound, 20-foot-long Toutatis—a Celtic tribute.

For their top finishes, the University of Nevada, Reno, the University of California, Berkeley, and École de technologie supérieure earned $5,000, $2,500, and $1,500 in scholarship money, respectively.

The 2008 ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition teams in order of final rank are:
1. University of Nevada, Reno
2. University of California, Berkeley
3. École de technologie supérieure
4. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
5. University of Florida
6. University of Wisconsin – Madison
7. Clemson University
8. Michigan Technological University
9. University of California, Los Angeles
10. University of Wisconsin – Platteville
11. Polytechnic University
12. Drexel University
13. Florida Institute of Technology
14. University of Houston
15. Youngstown State University
16. The University of Maine
17. University of Washington
18. United States Air Force Academy
19. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
20. Fairmont State University
21. Louisiana Tech University
22. Milwaukee School of Engineering

The races, both endurance and sprint combined, counted for only 25 percent of the teams’ overall score. The remaining 75 percent was based equally on a technical design paper that highlighted the planning, development, testing, and construction of the team’s canoe; a formal oral presentation, in which the team had to detail its canoe’s design, construction, racing ability, and other innovative features, as well as defend their choices to the judges during a question and answer session; and the end product—the final racing canoe and project display, which were scored on aesthetics and visual presentation.

Special awards were also given to three teams. The University of Wisconsin—Madison received the R. John Craig Memorial Award—given to the school that best exemplifies the spirit and cooperative ideals of the competition by placing first in the co-ed sprint race; Drexel University was honored with the Tony P. Chrest Innovation Award—given in recognition of a team’s superior and creative use of technology and materials in the construction of its canoe; and the University of Florida was awarded the American Concrete Institute Excellence in Concrete Canoe Design Award—given to recognize use of basic design principles for unconventional applications.

The three-day event, organized by the ASCE and hosted by the École de technologie supérieure, was made possible by the support of the American Concrete Institute; Baker Concrete Construction; BASF—The Chemical Company; Bentley Systems, Inc.; the Construction Institute of the ASCE; Holcim (US) Inc.; ICS Penetron; Kiewit; and U.S. Silica Company.

More information about the National Concrete Canoe Competition is available online at