Concrete canoe team gives iPad for donations


Jennie Kushner

Alabama may have another victory to boast about as the UA American Society of Civil Engineers concrete canoe team has qualified to participate in the National Concrete Canoe Competition in California.

The team of 150 members will be accepting monetary donations at the promenade outside of B.B. Comer from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, Thursday and until noon Friday. Those who donate have the chance to win an iPad.

The team invented and constructed a 20-foot canoe weighing 350 pounds, said Thomas Mote, a senior majoring in construction engineering. The team debuted the boat at the American Society of Civil Engineers 2010 Southeast Student Conference concrete canoe competition held at Auburn University March 19-20.

Kiran Patel, a graduate student studying civil engineers and the ASCE’s treasure, said the team placed first in the Southeast region and earned a spot at the national competition.

Their next goal is raising money to pay for traveling costs out west. Patel said giving away an iPad seemed like a way to receive more donations.

“One night we started brainstorming ideas of how we could raise money and we knew some organizations had drawings for things like a football signed by Nick Saban,” Patel said. “Some did a pork roast. We decided since the iPad was something that just recently came out and it is big in the news, it would be attractive to college students and make them want to donate to our cause.”

Patel said the team has been preparing for the competition since last June. He said the team has been studying previous reports of recent winners to replicate their success.

The team was given a design they had to follow to exact measure, and they had specific guidelines for the construction of the canoe, Patel said.

“The canoe is made out of concrete but it has to be light enough to float,” he said. “We had to design the shape, the concrete mix, the reinforcement and then we had to write a paper describing what we did.”

The national competition will be held June 17-19, and the team plans on bringing around 24 people, Patel said.

“The donations go towards our travel and registration fees,” Patel said. “For one person, they are predicting a registration fee of $200, and we are also trying to fly everyone out there.” Currently the team has raised over $1,000.

Members of the team encourage fellow students to donate to their cause.

“When student organizations go out and compete for national recognition, they build the reputation of the school and make all grades look better,” said Marcie Walker, a junior majoring in civil engineering.

The team hasn’t competed in this competition since 1990 and is prepared to steal the show, Walker said.

“The only other time we competed in the competition was 20 years ago,” Walker said. “This will be our chance to prove that our engineering department is equal with programs from all around the country.”

Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 140,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America’s oldest national society.

The drawing for the iPad will be held Friday, April 30 at noon in front of B.B. Comer. Donations will be accepted until the time of the drawing.