Dordt College News

Dordt students launch a concrete canoe at regional competition

May 4, 2011

When 400 pounds of concrete is placed in water, it sinks. But not so with the 400 pound concrete canoe constructed by a team of Dordt College engineering students. Students entered the canoe, nicknamed The Cannon, into the annual Concrete Canoe Competition held by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in Fargo, North Dakota.

The competition offered a unique opportunity for engineering students to put their knowledge, creativity, and problem-solving skills to the test by asking teams to design, build, and race a canoe made of concrete.

Dordt placed fifth out of eight teams, an impressive finish for a first-time team. “The judges and competitors were very impressed with our first canoe, and compliments on the workmanship were plentiful,” said Nathanael Couperus, a Dordt College senior graduating with a degree in engineering. Couperus was the Dordt College Concrete Canoe team captain. “A highlight for the weekend was performing very well in the oral presentation, scoring 94 out of 100 points. Our focus on sustainability and stewardship was a large factor that the judges were looking for in the mix.”

The canoe was originally intended to weigh only 200 pounds, but the final product was 400 pounds. The additional weight proved to be no problem as the canoe managed to successfully float and bob back to the surface after being fully submerged in water.

The racing portion of the competition was called off due to one-foot swells of water. “Dordt’s team had a lot of heart. They were the only ones brave enough to test their canoe in the water after paddling was called off,” said Couperus.

The team has already decided to enter next year’s competition. “We’ve already had a meeting about how the next team can improve next year and compete for a spot at nationals,” said Couperus.

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