Concrete, Canoes, Cramming and Caffeine (Part 2)

Concrete, Canoes, Cramming and Caffeine (Part 2)


Last week, BW launched a new blog series following a team of Illinois Tech engineering students as they prepare for the regional finals of the National Concrete Canoe Competition. Sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the event asks students to build and race a canoe made from concrete. As the Midwest's April 15 competition nears, we present this second installment. To read the first entry in this new series, click here.


by MATTHEW TROEMNER, student, Illinois Tech Second in a series | April 11, 2016

When goggles go on,  APM Sean is all biz.

When goggles go on, APM Sean is all biz.

Welcome back! Last time, you heard about the series of unfortunate events that was concrete canoe construction. Now, as we put on the finishing touches, our minds turn to the actual races, which are now only four days away. So, it is make or break time!

Our fearless captains, Aaron and Rafal, are hard at work in the shop again as I write this, sanding and sealing our canoe. Aaron, our organization’s treasurer, and Rafal are both in their third year here at Illinois Tech, studying civil engineering.

Capt. Aaron  & team, pre-shell.

Capt. Aaron & team, pre-shell.

The rest of our team leadership includes assistant project managers Jorge, Sean, and Daksh. Following them, our team is rounded out by the grunts, those there for the mixing, hard labor, and much-needed moral support: Talia, Ivan, Cristina, Hanghang, Micki, Sabrina, Mark, David, and myself. Overall, we are a relatively young team, so it has been quite the learning experience. This last year, the team lost a number of seniors to the “real world”, so we have been trying to cope ever since. Where we lack in experience as compared to other schools, though, we like to think we make up for in ingenuity and dedication!

Which, brings us to those other teams...

Yes, in theory, we all compete against ourselves to always improve, and each year, we certainly strive to put up a fair fight against the remaining schools... But deep down, our real mission, if nothing else, is to beat University of Wisconsin–Madison. The reigning champ, and always one of the top competitors, UW–Madison is what those in the concrete canoe world consider perfection, and this year I am sure will be no exception. 

On Wisconsin!  Badgers are reigning area champs.

On Wisconsin! Badgers are reigning area champs.

What is unique this year though, is the competition order.

Typically scheduled randomly, any school could have been paired to compete against any other. This year, though, the competition order has been revised to follow last year’s results. So, we’ll get to see the top teams (and us, the underdogs) directly competing, which should make for even more exciting races!

So, if you are in Chicago this week, and want to see all the match-ups  and hopefully cheer us on!  then please join us on Friday, April 15, at 11:00 a.m. at Chicago's Washington Park Lagoon! Teams start setting up at 8:00 a.m.

Okay, as much as I’d love to tell you more, we must get back to work here. Our new canoe doesn’t sleep, and all through this last week, I doubt any of us will either!

NEXT UP: Final prep! One more pulse check before the big day!

A student intern with the American Institute of Steel Construction, the author is president of Illinois Tech's ASCE chapter. Now in his fourth year, he is pursuing a co-terminal degree with a B.S. in Architectural Engineering and an M.E. in Structural Engineering. Troemner will graduate in 2017. For more, go to

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