It was difficult enough to make a boat out of concrete that could float. But the Montana State University team that accepted the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) challenge also had to enter the creation in a race.

No problem. The boat floated and they scored well in the race, too. How did they do it? The ASCE team of MSU students that accepted the challenge took the ensuing months to figure out what to include in the concrete mixture to make it lighter, yet be strong enough to hold weight...while floating on the water.

A report from MSU News explained the winning process. Some of the team members came up with a mix that had little bubble-filled beads of glass, rocky shale particles, plastic and a binder that would bring the materials together. Other members designed the shape, which was narrow for racing, but with a flat bottom, and would still be able to float. Four people would be in the boat for the race.

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The hull was formed of an initial layer of concrete, then a layer of foam, fiberglass mesh and another layer of concrete. And they kept the weight at about 184 pounds, four times heavier than a regular canoe. Due to the pandemic, the Bozeman, Montana, team had to compete in the British Columbia, Canada, race virtually. They transported their 18-foot-long canoe to Colorado and raced at the Rocky Mountain ASCE Student Symposium in Denver in April.

Even with some first-time paddlers, they won the slalom contest and, added to the points they scored on construction and design, they came out on top in the overall ranking. Kirsten Matteson, faculty advisor, said, "The goal was to just make a canoe and compete, so to have the students make such a strong finish was awesome." That boat is on display at the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering ad the Bozeman campus.

Bozeman will be the site of the 2023 Pacific Northwest ASCE Student Symposium next spring. And the team is recruiting other students to be members. The canoe team was: Jenna Brogren, William Landrey, Sam Curtis, Matthew Cornyn, Andrew Blickensderfer, Konnor Johnston, Taleen Koudsi, Cash Cota, John Shaw, Trey Wheeler, Henry Wilkey and Sean Williams. You can find out more that the MSU News site.

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