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Despite having not fielded a team since 1997, Lafayette took the trophy for third place in the Pennsylvania-Delaware Region of the 2001 National Concrete Canoe Competition, held April 28 at Lake Galena in Peace Valley Park, just north of Doylestown, Pa.

The team was led by project manager junior Matt Remer (Hamden, Conn.), who also served as co-captain with junior Justin Hoffmann (Hawley, Pa.). Other team members who participated this year are juniors Adam Brown (Pennsauken, N.J.), Crystalann Harbold (York, Pa.), Jennifer Murno (Wayne, N.J.), Erin O’Brien (Carlisle, Pa.), Kaye Powell (Annapolis, Md.), Pam Vislocky (Neshanic Station, N.J.), and Dave Woodruff (Roselle Park, N.J.), and first-year students Fernando Luna (Managua, Nicaragua) and Nate Tyson (Easton, Pa.). All are current or intended civil engineering majors.

Points were awarded for design, presentation, racing, and the final product. Named the S.S. Minnow II, Lafayette’s canoe is blue and constructed of Portland cement and lightweight aggregates. It is 20.5 feet long, weighs about 140 pounds, and has a hull thickness of a half-inch.

The canoe team’s advisers were David Brandes and Arthur Kney, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering.

“This was an invaluable learning experience, not only in engineering, but in project management, teamwork and organization,” says Hoffmann. “The project afforded an opportunity to learn so much more than a classroom environment could offer. It was a hands-on project that encompassed many aspects of civil engineering. The project involved more than just building a boat, though. It was a true team effort and it was amazing how everyone pulled together to complete it. The team is extremely excited to participate again next year, and we hope to have the same support from the community and the college as we try to improve upon this year’s product.”

Brandes says Lafayette’s showing in the contest is particularly impressive considering that other schools within the American Society of Civil Engineering generally have competed every year.

“This team started from scratch,” says Brandes. “They didn’t have any knowledge handed to them about how to build the canoe. With teamwork and effort, they did the project themselves with little guidance. It’s their work and they’re very excited.”

The competition has been sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers and Master Builders, Inc. since 1988 as a challenge to civil engineering students to apply engineering principles to designing and racing a concrete canoe. The major difficulty lies in the fact that concrete has a density nearly three times that of water. The 1997 Lafayette team used a wooden frame covered with metal sheets and a layer of concrete mix.

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