ASCE Student Chapter Wins 11th Regional Concrete Canoe Title

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Fairmont State University’s American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter continues its tradition of excellence and for the 11th consecutive year will represent the region at the National Concrete Canoe Competition.

FSU’s ASCE Student Chapter won first place in the Concrete Canoe Competition over the weekend at the 2014 Virginias Conference, hosted by the University of Virginia. In addition, the FSU chapter was awarded the 2014 ASCE Distinguished Chapter Award for Region 4 by the ASCE Committee on Student Members, which is presented each year to the most outstanding student organization in the region. The FSU chapter also was a Robert Ridgway Award Finalist. This distinction was earned by only four of 304 ASCE Student Chapters.

Team members participating in the weekend competition were Lisa Allen of Hundred, Daniel Martinez of Bridgeport, Brandon Bartlett of Bridgeport, Ashley Marinaro of Clarksburg, Aaron Goldizen of Petersburg, Cameron Deem of Harrisville, Keith Axton of Clarksburg, Maxwell Sobus of Wilmington, Del., Anthony Urgo of Fairmont, Cameron Nuzum of Shinnston, Jonathan Decker of Fairmont, Michelle Brown of Duck, Joseph Lynch of White Sulphur Springs, Kalee Murphey of Fairmont, Courtney Ridenour of Elkview, Ashley Kiser of Clendenin, Rezin Spears of Blacksville, Dave Cox of Winchester, Mike Shultz of Lost Creek and Philipp Shull of Bridgeport. Tia Como, P.E., serves as ASCE faculty advisor.

“Fairmont State University is the only college or university in the state to qualify for the national competition,” Como said. “Our students work extremely hard to create a concrete canoe of the proper consistency and dimensions to actually float and race on the water. I am so very proud of our chapter and students. Winning the 2014 ASCE Distinguished Chapter Award for our region and being named a Robert Ridgway Award Finalist are major honors.”

The conference brings together 14 schools from West Virginia, Virginia and Washington, D.C., and provides students a chance to gain valuable hands-on experience by competing in many engineering-related competitions. The students must follow strict rules that dictate the contents of the concrete matrix in building the canoe and, of course, the vessel must float, to be eligible to compete in the races. Fairmont State won the first of its regional titles in 2004.

The 2014 FSU team named its concrete canoe the “Gray Ghost,” after Confederate Army Cavalry Commander John S. Mosby. The Civil War soldier earned his nickname the “Gray Ghost” for his quick raids and ability to escape his Union pursuers. The “Gray Ghost” canoe is 19.5 feet long, with a width of 32 inches, depth of 14 inches and half an inch thickness. The unit weight of the concrete is 52.1 psf and the overall weight is 205 pounds.

The 27th Annual ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition will be June 19-21, 2014, at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in Johnstown, Pa. FSU remains the only university in the state to be invited to compete at the national level. For more information, visit

Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) represents more than 137,500 members of the civil engineering profession worldwide, and is America’s oldest national engineering society. ASCE’s vision is to position engineers as global leaders building a better quality of life.

Watch this story by WDTV reporter Rachel McDevitt featuring interviews with team Captain Ashley Marinara, team member Lisa Allen and Advisor Tia Como:

Benefit Dinner Planned for May 2

As part of the build up to the national competition the team will host a benefit dinner on Friday, May 2, at Westchester Village in Fairmont. The event will include a keynote address from Paul Mattox, P.E., Secretary of Transportation and Commissioner of Highways for the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. with a meet and greet, including a cash bar. A dinner buffet will be served at 7 p.m. During that time, Mattox will deliver the keynote address and members of the 2014 Concrete Canoe Team will be introduced. Wyatt Turner, an acoustic country rock band, will provide entertainment beginning at 8 p.m.

Corporate sponsorships for the event are available. Platinum Sponsorships for $1,000 include 10 guest tickets and a reserved dinner table. Gold Sponsorships for $750 include eight guest tickets and a reserved dinner table. Silver Sponsorships for $500 include six guest tickets. Bronze Sponsorships for $250 include three guest tickets. Individual tickets also are available for $100 Platinum, $50 Regular and $25 for students. Children ages 5 and younger are admitted for free.

To purchase tickets or for more information about the dinner, contact Como at (304) 367-4629 or e-mail her at Reservations should be made by April 29. Checks should be made payable to the Fairmont State Foundation, Inc. Checks can be mailed to FSU ASCE, Tia Como, P.E., Fairmont State University, 1201 Locust Ave., Fairmont, WV 26554.

Summer Technical Conference Set for June 5

In coordination with the West Virginia Division of Highways, FSU ASCE will host a Summer Technical Conference for professionals and technicians to earn seven professional development hours. The event with the theme “E3: Engineers Engage Everyone,” will take place in Room 305 of the Engineering Technology Building on the main FSU campus on Thursday, June 5, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those interested in attending should RSVP by Friday, May 30.

Conference fees are $200 for ASCE members, $250 for non-members, $25 for students and free to qualifying WVDOH employees. For more information or to RSVP, contact Tia Como at

About the attached photo:

Pictured in the front row from left to right are Lisa Allen, Anthony Urgo, Ashley Kiser, Jonathan Decker and Kalee Murphey. In the back row from left to right are Courtney Ridenour, Rosetta Kolar, Rezin Spears, George Lynch, Aaron Goldizen, Ashley Marinaro, Tia Como, Philipp Shull, Daniel Martinez, Cameron Deem, Maxwell Sobus, Brandon Bartlett, Keith Axton and Cameron Nuzum.