Concrete canoe team prepares for regional race

K-State Concrete Canoe Team designs and builds a canoe made of concrete for competitive racing. The concrete canoe is displayed inside the Engineering Complex. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State’s concrete canoe team may not be well-known, but it has a long history.

The concrete canoe team is preparing for a regional race at the University of Missouri in April. The team began preparing for the race against other Midwestern schools at the beginning of the semester.

If the team finishes in the top three out of 12 schools, they will qualify for the national competition held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May. Although K-State’s concrete canoe team has never qualified for a national competition, they hope to be eligible for the 2021 national race, when K-State will host the tournament in Manhattan.

“This year we are trying to raise the presence of K-State’s concrete rowing team,” said Maddy Akers, team president and sophomore in civil engineering. “Over the last two years, we have progressed in where we placed at regionals, so we are trying to build off of that.”

The process of making a concrete canoe float is not easy; the students must change the property of the concrete to allow it to float by adding glass and other compounds.

The students perfect the concrete mixture over the first semester of the school year and, once back from winter break, pour the concrete into a canoe mold. To get the concrete canoe to float, the students use the experience they have learned in the classroom.

As if getting a concrete compound to float isn’t hard enough, the students also mold and sand the canoe down to make it faster in water.

“Its the organization and the problem-solving set of skills that are the most beneficial for these students and I think that’s a useful set of skills we sometimes miss in the classroom,” Christopher Jones, associate professor of civil engineering, said.

The concrete canoe team allows new generations of engineers at K-State to compete with the best in the country.

“This club has allowed me to meet so many people at K-State in the engineering department that have the same interests and goals as me,” Akers said. “The club has definitely impacted me positively.”