UA Engineering Students Prepare for Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge Competitions

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Rolling pins are often associated with baking, however University of Alabama engineering students are taking them out of the kitchen and into the garage to make an ultra-sleek, floating concrete canoe. And, when they are not cooking up concrete mixtures, you can find them also constructing a steel deck bridge with the ability to support 2,500 pounds.

UA civil engineering students plan to debut these creations at the American Society of Civil Engineers 2009 Southeast Student Conference concrete canoe and steel bridge competitions held at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, March 26-28.

Teams competing in the inter-collegiate steel bridge competition will have one chance, Friday, March 27, to erect a deck bridge spanning 20 feet that supports a load of 2,500 pounds. The students will be judged on deflection, weight and construction economy.

Since the fall semester, students have been preparing for the competition by creating construction drawings and designing the bridge.

Josh Hayes, the captain of the steel bridge team, said one of the most challenging parts of the competition is designing quick, yet strong connections for the many pieces of the bridge.

On Saturday, March 28, UA students will launch their concrete canoe, “The Bear,” at Nashville Shores on J. Percy Priest Lake. Finalists will advance to compete at the national competition hosted by The University of Alabama June 11-13.

The canoe is made up of a special mixture of concrete that allows for floatation. The mixture consists of recycled glass bead, K1 glass spheres, Type I Portland cement, Metakolin, super plasticizer and water reducers.

After the concrete is rolled out using the pins, it’s placed upon the mold and dried. The canoe is then sanded and taken off the mold. Aesthetics, including the name of the canoe and the University, are added last.

The concrete canoe team will be judged on the presentation of the canoe, appearance, race performance and a technical paper.

UA civil engineering students preparing for the competitions are:

  • Hannah Beatty, a graduate student from Shreveport, La.
  • Steven Calhoun, a sophomore from Centreville
  • Bryan Fair, a senior from Petal, Miss.
  • Rob Foreman, a junior from Andalusia
  • Chase Gamble, a senior from Jemison
  • Joseph Godwin, a senior from Greenville
  • Jermaine Lee Harton, a senior from Vernon
  • Josh Hayes, a senior from Trussville
  • Jennifer Hetherington, a junior from Tuscaloosa
  • Matthew Johnson, a senior from Anniston
  • James Hugh Kyzar, a junior from Andalusia
  • Josh Leow, a senior from Northport
  • James McGee, a senior from Cottondale
  • Jason McGee, a junior from Northport
  • Phil Moncayo, a senior from Dublin, Ohio
  • Lane Morrison, a junior from Calera
  • Heath Nelson, a junior from Montevallo
  • Kiran Patel, a senior from Athens
  • Jonathan Rasmussen, a junior from Leesburg
  • Mary Rich, a senior from Athens
  • Jesse Rutherford, a senior from Town Creek
  • Nick Sherman, a senior from Biloxi, Miss.
  • Jeremy Smithson, a graduate student from McCalla
  • Marcie Walker, a freshman from Olive Branch, Miss.
  • Jennifer Weber, a senior from Jacksonville
  • Nick Woychak, a sophomore from Pine City, N.Y.

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

In 1837, UA became the first university in the state to offer engineering classes and was one of the first five in the nation to do so. Today, the College of Engineering, with about 2,300 students and more than 100 faculty, is one of the three oldest continuously operating engineering programs in the country and has been fully accredited since accreditation standards were implemented in the 1930s.


Whitney Taylor, Engineering Student Writer, 205/348-3051,
Mary Wymer,