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Lafayette finished just one point shy of first place last weekend among seven schools competing in the Pennsylvania-Delaware Region of the 2002 National Concrete Canoe Competition.

Lafayette took first place outright for its design paper and display booth, and tied for first in the final product category. The team, which is comprised of civil engineering majors, also took second place in oral presentation.

After those categories were judged Friday, the schools raced against each another Saturday.

“We dominated the academic portion,” says project manager Justin Hoffmann, a senior from Hawley, Pa. “The paddling killed us.”

“It’s a good competition,” he adds. “You have to be able to paddle the boat, but 70 percent of it is academic. We showed the region this weekend that Lafayette, from an academic perspective, is a very strong school. Our results were pretty impressive considering this is only the second year that the school has done the competition (in the recent past).”

Lafayette finished just behind Drexel University and ahead of Bucknell, Pittsburgh-Johnstown, Penn State, Temple, and Villanova universities.

Hoffmann served as co-captain with Adam Brown, a senior from Pennsauken, N.J. Other team members are seniors Crystalann Harbold (York, Pa.), Jennifer Murno (Wayne, N.J.), Erin O’Brien (Carlisle, Pa.), Matt Remer (Hamden, Conn.), and Pam Vislocky (Neshanic Station, N.J.); juniors Jennifer Langoski (North Brunswick, N.J.), Jeremy Lucas (Peckville, Pa.), James Mangarillo (Hampton Bays, N.Y.), Dan McClendon (Lakewood, N.J.), Erin North (Canonsburg, Pa.), Nathan Tregger (Niantic, Conn.), and Peter Totev (Oberursel, Germany); sophomores Jonathan Christie (Hawthorne, N.J.), Jaeyoung Jang (Cochabamba, Bolivia), Nate Tyson (Easton, Pa.), and Fernando Luna (Managua, Nicaragua); and first-year student Rodolfo Silva (San Jose, Costa Rica).

David Brandes and Art Kney, assistant professors of civil and environmental engineering, advised the team.

“There’s a lot to be learned through participating in this,” says Hoffmann, “from design and construction of the canoe to project management to teamwork. Everyone who participated took something away from it. All of the underclassman got the bug and are raring to go next year.”

Named Avalon after the mythical island where King Arthur was said to be buried, Lafayette’s boat is dark maroon with gray interior and lettering. Constructed from Portland cement and lightweight aggregates, it is 20 feet long and 125 lbs. It is layered with fiberglass mesh.

Having finished in third place with last year’s entry, S.S. Minnow II, the team made several improvements. The students used a better method of casting, implementing “more workable” concrete that could be adjusted with a trowel and strings for uniform thickness instead of being hand patted, notes Lucas, president of Lafayette’s student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. They used ScotchLite glass bubbles as the aggregate instead of sand and stone. In addition, new design software was purchased and more design research was conducted.

Lucas finds participation in the project to be a valuable experience.

“You get to know other students better and build friendships out of it,” he says. “Also, there’s the whole design and building experience that you don’t get in the classroom too much – you experience this first hand, with a lot of research and hard work. And the fact that you can stand back, look at it, and say ‘wow, I did this’ has its own benefit.”

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.

Categorized in: Academic News