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June 20, 2004


University of Wisconsin-Madison wins 2004 ASCE/MBT National Concrete Canoe Competition.

Reston, Va. - As the sun rose over picturesque Lake Fairfax, the challengers surveyed the demanding course ahead of them, and the looks of rock-hard determination on the faces of their opponents. They would spend the next eight, grueling hours in a fierce, bow to bow competition where only one team could paddle across the finish line victorious. They asked themselves, "Do we have what it takes to bring home the "Engineering Cup?"

After nearly a year of preparation, and an eight-hundred mile journey to the nation's capital, students from University of Wisconsin-Madison captured their second national title at the 17th annual ASCE/MBT National Concrete Canoe Competition. The 'Rock Solid' surpassed entries from 21 other top engineering schools not only in speed, but more importantly in design, construction and overall performance. The three-day event, which marked the first time in nearly a decade that the competition was held in the Washington, D.C. metro area, was hosted by The Catholic University of America and organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Degussa Admixtures, Inc. (Master Builders) sponsored the competition, with additional support from Baker Concrete Construction, Cemex USA and U.S. Silica Company.

"As these engineers of the future gather in the Nation's capital, it is heartening to see the level of innovation and dedication they bring to the table. The best engineers not only make the impossible a reality, they work toward perfecting it," said ASCE President Patricia D. Galloway, P.E., F.ASCE, PMP. "Every year these students raise the quality of design and engineering technique that goes into building the canoes, making them sleeker, faster and more maneuverable."

The University of Wisconsin-Madison's 180-pound, 21-foot eight-inch, racing-caliber canoe proved that good engineering skills, along with a strong sense of creativity and excellent teamwork, can make a material as seemingly ordinary as concrete accomplish extraordinary things. For their ingenuity, the team earned a $5,000 scholarship from Degussa Admixtures, Inc.

"Every year these students apply their classroom knowledge to a practical problem-and prove that concrete is a remarkable and versatile building material," said Degussa Admixtures, Inc. President and CEO Mike Shydlowski. "Their work, during the competition and in the future, will have a tremendous impact on the building industry."

The team's closest competitors were Université Laval, the perennial recipient of the Canadian Best Final Product award and a six-time Canadian champion since the team's first canoe in 1996, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Université Laval paddled their way to second place with the ICEBERG, a 117-pound, 6.3-meter, grey and white racing machine. The University of Alabama in Huntsville sailed into third with the 148-pound, 21-foot 1-inch, white, blue, red and orange ConQuest.

The Université Laval team, which competes as an invited international guest, is not eligible for the scholarship. Third place University of Alabama in Huntsville and fourth place Clemson University earn the $2,500 and $1,500 in scholarship money respectively; however, Université Laval is awarded the second place trophy.

The races, both endurance and sprint combined, count for only 25 percent of the total score. An academic paper and a business presentation detailing their design, as well as the end product-the final racing canoe-each account for an additional 25 percent. The canoes must also pass a floatation test prior to the races. The students completely submerge their canoes in a tank of water to prove they are still able to float horizontally when filled with water.

2004 ASCE/MBT National Concrete Canoe Competition teams in order of final rank:

1. University of Wisconsin-Madison
2. Université Laval
3. University of Alabama in Huntsville
4. Clemson University
5. Milwaukee School of Engineering
6. Texas A&M University
7. Oklahoma State University
8. Drexel University
9. Michigan Tech University
10. New Mexico State University
11. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
12. North Carolina State University
13. Western Kentucky University
14. California State Polytechnic University Pomona
15. Polytechnic University
16. California State University Sacramento
17. University of Oklahoma
18. Montana State University
18. University of Massachusetts Amherst
18. Rochester Institute of Technology
18. Villanova University
18. Fairmount State College

The Concrete Canoe Competition represented one-third of a weekend-long celebration of this versatile material, under the banner of "Celebrating Concrete!" ASCE and Degussa Admixtures, Inc. partnered with the National Building Museum to present "Celebrating Concrete!" The festivities kicked off at the National Building Museum on June 18, with the final product judging portion of the competition. On June 19, the National Building Museum's new exhibition, Liquid Stone: New Architecture in Concrete, opened. The exhibition surveys cutting-edge architecture in which the versatility of concrete is an essential aspect of the design, and will be on display through January 23, 2005. In conjunction with the exhibition opening and the Concrete Canoe Competition, the National Building Museum and ASCE presented a Concrete Carnival, where children and their families were be able to explore the many surprising aspects of concrete through hands-on activities like mixing edible "concrete." Visitors to the Concrete Carnival were also able to watch the student presentations and preliminary floatation tests, and enjoy direct interaction with the young competitors.

For additional information on the National Concrete Canoe Competition, visit