The NJIT Concrete Canoe Team Wins Second Place

NJIT competed in the regional concrete canoe contest, placing second.

NJIT’s Concrete Canoe team finished second in the regional competition, losing to The City College of New York by a hair -- just 3.2 points.

The contest was held Sunday (April 27) at Cook’s Pond in Denville, N.J. Seven college teams competed, with NJIT placing ahead of Polytechnic-NYU, Rutgers, Rowan, Fairleigh Dickinson and Manhattan College. The contest is run by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), of which NJIT has a student chapter.

“This year’s concrete canoe completion had a very strong field of contenders and we in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department are very proud of the strong performance of our ASCE Team,” said John Schuring, a professor of civil engineering who advises the team.

“Remember that this is only our third year that we’ve competed in the canoe competition after a decade-long hiatus,” added Schuring.  “To finish second among long-experienced contenders is a true accomplishment. We were a very close second, and we will use the experience and feedback to come back even stronger next year. That said, the leadership shown by our two captains and the collaboration shown by our team was tremendous.”

Beginning in August, the team designed, fabricated and built a 210-pound canoe. They had to create a custom concrete mix that met ASCE specifications for strength and material sustainability. The trick was to build a boat that not only met specs and could stay afloat but also moved fast in the water. Each team also had to race its canoe at the pond in five heats: NJIT placed first in women's endurance; first in men's sprint; and second in men's endurance. The races accounted for 25 percent of the judging. The other three categories were a research paper outlining their design of the canoe, a presentation about their design and a a final display of the canoe. The races amounted to 25 points, with the three other categories accounting for 75 points. NJIT also took first place in the presentation; second in the research paper and third in the display of the canoe.

Drew Margiotta, a co-captain of the team, said they were disappointed at the results but proud of their finished product and its performance.

“We are a very young team with a bright future,” said Drew. “I’m a sophomore and another captain, Kristina Espineli, is also a sophomore and many team members will be returning next year, which makes us feel confident that we will finish on top next spring. It was a great experience and I've learned more from this competition than I have in any class.”

Kristina, the co-captain, said being part of the team gave her a great sense of accomplishment and it was an experience she’ll always cherish. The canoe contest is not so much about winning, she said, as it is about learning how to apply theory to practice.

“The canoe is a great hands-on project that allows students to take theory and put it to use,” she said. “It is part of the practical education that NJIT gives us and it is also a really fun project.”

By Robert Florida