ASCE headed to Nationals after 16th win at regional concrete canoe competition

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Fairmont State University’s American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter continues its tradition of excellence and for the 16th consecutive year will represent the region at the National Concrete Canoe Competition (NCCC). The team holds record for the most consecutive national appearances at the NCCC.

Fairmont State University’s ASCE Student Chapter won first place in the Concrete Canoe Competition at the 2019 Virginias Conference, hosted by George Mason University, March 28-March 29 The team placed first in the technical paper and final product, second in the presentation, and first in all five races.

Team members participating in the weekend competition were Team Captains Jared Neehouse, Sammy Jesmer, and Austin Kozul, along with Garrett Devericks, Miranda Guentert, Kevin Watkins, Taylor Farnsworth, Harrison Moore, Addison Watkins, Lauren Johnson, Ben Costello, Cody Kropp, Hannah Workman, Ryan Menendez, James Pheasant, Brad Wyne, Devan Wilson, Jonathan Wright, and Austin Young.  Assistant Professor Tabitha Lafferre serves as ASCE faculty advisor. 

“Fairmont State University’s Civil Engineering Technology students are very proud to represent both the state of West Virginia as well as the Virginia’s Conference at the National Concrete Canoe Competition this year. The team has worked very hard to deliver a superior product that aligns with the theme selection,” Lafferre said. “The team worked extremely hard to create a mix design that would adhere to strict rule specifications and float on the water while yielding the desired consistency. I am very proud of the chapter and all of the students that have worked so hard this year.”

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. Of the 14 participating colleges and universities this year, seven produced concrete canoes for the competition. 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.

"This year’s regional competition win can be attributed to the immense amount of work put in by everyone leading up to our day and a half in Fairfax – resulting in over 2000 man-hours towards every aspect of the project,” said Captain Jared Neehouse. “I could not be more proud of the canoe we were able to produce as a team, and I am excited to continue working with everyone as we gear up for the national competition!"

The canoe is named “The Fossil” this year, a tribute to West Virginia coal mining discoveries.  The state has uncovered a large part of its natural history through fossils. The coal-mining industry in West Virginia contributed significantly in these discoveries during and after the Industrial Revolution. Fossil trackways are revealed on the ceiling of tunnels as mine excavation progresses. Of course, these fossils are preserved over millions of years. Likewise, the Fairmont State University Concrete Canoe Team presents The Fossil with a goal of increasing longevity of the team while making a lasting impact on the community of Fairmont, West Virginia.

“The Fossil” is just over 18 ½ feet long, with a max width of 27.75 inches, depth of 14.5 inches, and 5/8 inch thickness. The dry unit weight of the concrete is an average of 55 pcf and the overall weight is approximately 270 pounds. With sustainability in mind, the team used the casting tables and portable humidification chamber constructed last year. Material donations from local supplies allowed the team to keep the cost of this to a minimum. 

As part of the build up to the national competition the team will host a benefit dinner from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, May 3, at the Knights of Columbus, 1529 Mary Lou Retton Dr., Fairmont. This benefit dinner will act as the main fundraiser as the team begins planning their trek to Melbourne, FL. To purchase tickets or for more information about the dinner, contact Tabitha Lafferre via email, tabitha.lafferre@fairmontstate.edu, by Tuesday, April 30. Individual sponsorships are $100 at the Platinum level, $50 at the Regular level and $25 for students; children age 5 and younger are admitted for free. Corporate sponsorships also are available.

The event will begin with a meet and greet and cash bar with music provided by concrete canoe alumni Brandon Howdershelt and his band. The dinner buffet will begin at 7 p.m. 

The 32nd Annual ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition will be June 6-8, at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, FL.

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. Visit www.concretecanoe.org and asce.org.

Fairmont State’s ASCE will host a Summer Technical Conference for professionals and technicians to earn six professional development hours. The event with the theme “Engineering the Future Together will take place on campus from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 4th, in Room 305 of the Engineering Technology Building. Sponsored by the WV DOH, qualifying WV DOH employees can attend the conference for free. 

For more information, contact Tabitha Lafferre at tabitha.lafferre@fairmontstate.edu.