Tech hosts concrete canoe competition

More than 400 students and guests and about 40 student teams from around the world will participate as Louisiana Tech University hosts the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Concrete Canoe Competition+ today through Sunday.

The event will begin on Tech’s campus, as concrete canoe teams make oral presentations and surveying and sustainability teams complete tasks in the Integrated Engineering and Science Building and University Hall. On the final day, teams will race concrete canoes and present a Surveying Expo at Lincoln Parish Park before returning to campus for an awards banquet.

Civil Engineering doctoral student Katya Opel, who spent her undergraduate years studying construction methodologies and building concrete canoes for the Louisiana Tech student chapter of the ASCE, played a leading role in organizing the upcoming event. The former Tech ASCE president helped coordinate the team’s participation in regional and society-wide competitions as an undergraduate and pitched the idea and helped develop the bid for Louisiana Tech to host the 2022 society-wide competition shortly after the University hosted the 2019 Deep South Regional Conference.

Opel, the team, and adviser Dr. Elizabeth Matthews, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Technology, prepared competition agendas, coordinated food and housing, and planned entertainment for attendees to enjoy on campus, in Ruston, and at the Lincoln Parish Park.

“Preparing for this competition has been a long time coming, from starting the bid in 2019 to having the actual event this week,” Opel said. “It has been an amazing learning experience and Dr. Matthews and I definitely could not have done it without the help of the Planning Committee, Dr. John Matthews [Director of Louisiana Tech’s Trenchless Technology Center and Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, Construction Engineering Technology, and Engineering and Technology Management], and Dr. Heath Tims [Associate Dean of Louisiana Tech’s College of Engineering and Science Undergraduate Studies and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering]. We are so excited for the first in-person society-wide event since 2019 and to show off everything that Louisiana Tech and Ruston have to offer.”

“We are really excited to be hosting this event, and through Katya’s leadership and the effort and support of many people, I know it’s going to be an amazing experience,” Matthews added. “I am so proud of all our ASCE students and thankful for the support from our sponsors, faculty, and staff who have made this possible.”

In addition to having an automatic place in the society-wide competition due to hosting the event, the Louisiana Tech teams qualified by winning several concrete canoe races and sustainable solutions competitions at the Gulf Coast Regionals last spring.

“I’m proud of the work that Dr. Matthews and the Louisiana Tech ASCE team put into organizing this conference,” Dr. Hisham Hegab, dean of the Louisiana Tech College of Engineering and Science, said. “I’m happy to welcome our guests, and I look forward to the competition.”

The first competition, the Concrete Canoe Competition, is known as the “America’s Cup of Civil Engineering.” Concrete Canoe has served as ASCE’s Flagship student competition since 1988 and challenges civil engineering students to apply engineering principles, project management and team building skills to build and race a canoe made of concrete. Over the course of the school year, teams of students competed for 19 spots at the finals. Races will consist of slalom and sprint races and teams will be judged on the races as well as the final product, oral presentations and a design paper. 

 The second competition, the Sustainable Solutions — Tiny House Challenge, challenges students to develop a stronger understanding of sustainability and learn to incorporate sustainable solutions into everyday problems that engineers incur, such as homelessness. The “City of ASCE” has posted a Request for Proposals for a site design for a tiny-home community to address homelessness. Teams will display a poster presentation of their community as well as present their plan to a panel of judges.   

Lastly, the Utility Engineering and Surveying Institute Surveying Competition is designed in recognition of the importance of basic surveying principles to all civil engineering projects. Students are required to use standard field and office equipment and procedures to solve common problems encountered in the industry and demonstrate a clear understanding of and ability to apply basic surveying principles on the job site and during the design process. The competition will also include a topographic mapping project and presentation.