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Concrete Canoe Floats to Victory at National Competition

The Ohio Northern University concrete canoe team secured 13th place overall in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2009 national competition in Tuscaloosa, Ala., June 11-13. The team of 14 qualified for the national competition after winning first place overall at the regional competition at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Mich., in April. Competing teams traveled from across the United States and parts of Canada to the national event.

This year marks the third year that Ohio Northern University has competed at the National Concrete Canoe Competition. In the past, the team has placed 12th and 13th overall. This year’s team also earned seventh place in the technical report category, 10th in the oral presentation category and 16th in the product category. This year’s canoe, 20 feet in length, weighing 250 pounds and painted green and black, was named “Green Monster.”

Bradford Barber, a senior civil engineering major from Bowling Green, Ohio, served for the third year as project manager and a team captain. This is his fourth year on the team, and he notes that the team has improved each year.

“This was a very memorable year as it was the first time ONU has ever beaten Michigan Tech,” Barber said. “Not only that, but we ended their six-year winning streak at the regional conference. The students come from many of the top engineering schools across the U.S. and make for very stiff competition. It’s really exciting to work on our project without any knowledge of what the other teams are building. Then you arrive at the competition and see all of the innovative ideas other teams have come up with – ideas you wish you would have thought of!”

Sustainability was added as a new judging criterion for the 2009 competition. Melinda Moser, a senior civil engineering major from Cincinnati, Ohio, and one of the team’s two captains, explained the green techniques employed on Green Monster. “The team reduced the amount of cement used in the mix by 15 percent from previous years. This is a significant change because the cement industry is responsible for 5 percent of the Earth’s carbon gas emissions. The team also used 100 percent recycled fibers made of carpet, and we used aggregates made from 99.99 percent recycled glass,” she said.

The team also demonstrated sustainability in its use of low-volatile organic compounds (VOC) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-approved stains and sealers.

“Display boxes were recycled from previous years and decorated with recycled soda bottles and cans collected by team members along with broken ceramic tiles collected from local hardware stores,” Moser said.

Other members of the team were Lee Saunders, a sophomore from North Olmsted, Ohio; Brooke Young, a senior from Mechanicsville, Va.; Tyler Bumbalough, a senior from West Liberty, Ohio; Drew Richards, a junior from New Washington, Ohio; Luisa Chinchilla, a junior from North Olmsted, Ohio; Andrew Lucas, a junior from Belmont, Ohio; Paige Sechrist, a freshman from Montoursville, Pa.; Anna Santino, a junior from Gahanna, Ohio; Adam Hamman, a junior from Bloomdale, Ohio; William Melton, a freshman from Lafayette, Ohio; Mary Purvis, a freshman from New Haven, Ind.; and Justin Stone, a freshman from Burton, Ohio.

Though the nights working in the Biggs engineering building were often long and stressful, both Barber and Moser agree that the 1,200 hours taken to complete the project were well worth it, citing the number of friendships cultivated over the years and the real-life application of classroom theory.

One relationship Barber and Moser have formed is their own. The two met as freshmen through work on the concrete canoe, and they have both been officers on the team ever since. They began dating as sophomores and were engaged over spring break of their senior year. Barber and Moser plan to marry next summer.

“Next year, I will be attending graduate school at the University of Cincinnati to specialize in structures. I can, without a doubt, say that my concrete canoe experience has helped with my graduate school acceptance and scholarship,” Moser said.

The overall team standings for the competition are as follows:

1. University of California
2. École de Technologie Supérieure
3. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
4. University of Florida
5. University of Nevada, Reno
6. New Mexico State University
7. Université Laval
8. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
9. University of Alabama, Huntsville
10. University of Cincinnati
11. University of Wisconsin, Platteville
12. Clemson University
13. Ohio Northern University
14. Polytechnic Institute of New York
15. University of Evansville
16. University of Washington
17. Fairmont State University
18. Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville
19. University of Texas, Tyler
20. University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown
21. University of Memphis
22. University at Buffalo

More information can be found at:

The Green Monster
Concrete Canoe