University of Florida concrete canoe team wins fourth national title

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The University of Florida's concrete canoe team tests Springseeker, its championship 2024 canoe, in Lake Wauburg.

The University of Florida’s concrete canoe team has claimed its fourth national title.

The 12-member team and its Springseeker concrete canoe placed first overall Saturday at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Student Engineering Championships in Utah. UF led the top five, followed by Universite Laval (Quebec), California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, Virginia Tech and Western Kentucky University.

UF’s concrete canoe team also won ASCE’s virtual competition nationals in 2021 with Polligator. UF’s canoe Foreverglades took top honors in 2015, while the Tom Petty-themed Free Floatin’ won the title in 2019.

In addition to best overall, the UF team took second place in the Women’s Slalom, second in the Men’s Slalom, fifth in the Women’s Sprint, second in the Men’s Sprint, third in the Co-Ed Sprint, third in Best Technical Proposal, third in Best Technical Presentation and third in Best Final Product.

The championship comes several weeks after UF’s Eckhoff Steel Bridge team made history by claiming its fourth consecutive title at Louisiana Tech University. The civil engineering teams (concrete canoe and steel bridge) share space in The Pit, a large industrial space in Weil Hall. The championship canoes Foreverglades and Free Floatin’ hang from The Pit’s ceiling.

The canoes are made from thin layers of concrete and carbon fiber. The team must balance the weight of construction materials with performance in the water and turning agility. “We test the limits of the materials,” said Taylor Rawlinson, the team’s laboratory manager with faculty advisor Robert Thieke.

Known as America’s Cup of Civil Engineering, the ASCE competition combines precise engineering, hydrodynamic design and racing technique. America’s Cup also hosts several other engineering events, but the concrete canoes are the flagship competitions.

The UF concrete canoe team members who competed in Utah are Sydney Sutherland (co-project manager), Abigail Fronk (co-project manager), Payton Carter, Margaret Deaderick, Luke Gutierrez, Brennan Kade, Aiden Kittelson, Taylor Nestel, Thomas Raffenberg, Keegan Wittke, Alicia Demicco and Maya Patel.