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ASCE Chapter Wins 14th Regional Concrete Canoe Competition Impact
Fairmont State News

ASCE Chapter Wins 14th Regional Concrete Canoe Competition

Apr 17, 2017

Fairmont State University’s American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter continues its tradition of excellence and for the 14th consecutive year will represent the region at the National Concrete Canoe Competition. This victory and its subsequent invitation to the national competition will tie the national record for the most consecutive national appearances.

FSU’s ASCE Student Chapter won first place in the Concrete Canoe Competition at the 2017 Virginias Conference, hosted by Old Dominion University March 31-April 1. The FSU team won first place in final product, first place in technical paper, first place for oral presentation and second place overall in the races.

Team members participating in the weekend competition were Team Captain Katie Kelly, Co-Captains Jonathan Decker and Jeffrey Hartley, along with Brandon Howdershelt, Ashely Kiser, Quentin Knight, Hailey Rogers, Ian Chrobak, Chris Pritt, Daniel Pritt, Caleb Landis, James Pheasant, Sammy Jesmer, Ben Costello, Charles Morrow, Hannah Workman, Jared Neehouse, Zach Hawkins, Ryan Menendez, Austin Kozul and Jonathan Wright. Assistant Professor Tabitha Lafferre serves as ASCE faculty advisor with assistance from Senior Mentor, Professor Tia Como, P.E.

“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,” Lafferre said. “The team has a large number of younger members and they worked extremely hard to create a mix design that would adhere to 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, only eight 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.

Upon the team’s homecoming from the 2016 NCCC in Tyler, Texas, West Virginia suffered a tragic 1,000-year flood on June 23, 2016. The widespread tragedy throughout our state displayed a great show of resiliency and strength, bonding the small mountainous communities together. While not every member of our state was impacted, the emotional toll brought about the creation of the term “West Virginia Strong.” It is this notion that motivates every West Virginian to continue, regardless of the challenges ahead. The 2017 FSU Concrete Canoe Team is proud to represent our great state with the theme, Country Roads, and dedicates its concrete canoe “Mountain Mama” to the families that lost their homes and the 26 residents of this state who lost their lives.

“Mountain Mama” is 19 ½ feet long, with a max width of 28 inches, depth of 14 inches and ¾ inch thickness. The unit weight of the concrete is an average of 57 pcf and the overall weight is 320 pounds. With sustainability in mind, the team used the casting tables and portable humidification chamber constructed last year. The team also constructed their own form for the first time since 2010. Material donations from local supplies allowed the team to keep the cost of this to a minimum. To allow more space for paddlers, Mountain Mama was slightly lengthened and included capped noses to assist with flotation during races.

The 30th Annual ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition will be June 17-19, 2017, at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo. As part of the buildup to the national competition, the team will host a benefit dinner from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, May 5, at Muriale’s Italian Restaurant, 1742 Fairmont Ave., Fairmont.

This benefit dinner will act as the main fundraiser as the team begins planning their trek to Colorado. This trip will be more costly than in past years due to the distance to be traveled. To purchase tickets or for more information about the dinner, contact Tabitha Lafferre via e-mail at by Tuesday, April 25. Individual sponsorships are $100 at the Platinum level, $50 at the Regular level and $25 for students; children ages 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 team member Brandon Howdershelt and his band. The dinner buffet will begin at 7 p.m. The keynote speaker will be Lisa Allen, Field Engineer for Skanska USA Civil Southeast Inc. Allen is a former FSU Concrete Canoe Captain, and her team holds the FSU personal record for final product with a fourth place finish.

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 and

FSU ASCE will host a Summer Technical Conference for professionals and technicians to earn six professional development hours. The event with the theme “Engineering Strong” will take place on the main FSU campus from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, June 1, 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

About the photo:

Pictured in the front row from left to right: Jeffrey Hartley, Katie Kelly, Jonathan Decker, Sammy Jesmer, and Charles Morrow. Top row from left to right: Hailey Rogers, Jared Neehouse, Brandon Howdershelt, Ashley Kiser, Rosetta Kolar (Advisor), Ben Costello, Hannah Workman, Chris Pritt, James Pheasant, Quentin Knight, Austin Kozul, Ryan Menendez, Zach Hawkins, Caleb Landis, Jonathan Wright, Ian Chrobak, Daniel Pritt, Tabitha Lafferre (Advisor).

Concrete Canoe TeamCollege of Science and TechnologyAmerican Society of Civil Engineers Student ChapterASCETabitha Lafferre