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UMass Lowell Concrete Canoe to Compete in National Contest

‘Truck Day’ Marks Start of Team’s Quest for Top Design, Racing Honors


Contacts:   Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 or
                 Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or

* M E D I A   A D V I S O R Y *

Monday, June 17
11 a.m.

WHAT:  Twenty UMass Lowell students who designed and built a concrete canoe will race it in the championship round of a national engineering contest.

Before they can even compete this week, team members will drive the canoe halfway across the country while ensuring the craft stays intact – a feat in itself – to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for the annual Concrete Canoe Competition. Sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers, this year’s contest, held June 20 through June 22, will include 22 other collegiate teams from across North America. 

On Truck Day, UMass Lowell team members will load the canoe on the truck and depart for Illinois. Before they leave, they will display the canoe, explain how they built it, why it floats and what it will take for them to win the national championship. 

The canoe, called “Moswetuset” – a Native American word meaning “shaped like an arrowhead” and the origin of the name “Massachusetts” – measures 19 feet, 8 inches, is 26 inches across at its widest point and is 13 inches deep. Weighing in at 132 pounds, it was molded from a lightweight concrete reinforced with fiberglass mesh. 

To land the national berth, the students placed first in a qualifying regional round in April, beating collegiate teams from the Northeast and Canada. 

The competition poses both academic and athletic challenges. Canoes are judged on their design, construction quality, a presentation that touts their attributes and the results from men’s and women’s slalom-endurance races and men’s, women’s and co-ed sprints. To qualify for racing, the canoe must pass a “swamp test,” during which it will be submerged under water and must resurface on its own.

Students from Andover, Ashburnham, Barre, Cambridge, Dracut, Haverhill, North Billerica, North Grafton, Lowell, Methuen, Millis, Milton, Peabody, Quincy, Saugus, Wilmington, Woburn and Pelham, N.H. comprise the team. Advising the students is Gary Howe, director of UMass Lowell’s civil and environmental engineering laboratories. Civil engineering faculty member Edward Hajduk oversees the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

WHERE:  Cumnock Hall, North Campus, 31 University Ave., Lowell. For directions and parking information, contact UMass Lowell media relations.