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UMass Lowell Competes in Concrete Canoe Nationals

The ‘Revolution’ Places Seventh of 22 Entries in ‘Final Product’ Category

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UMass Lowell’s 2012 concrete canoe team poses with the “Revolution.”

By Edwin L. Aguirre

The UMass Lowell concrete canoe team finished 13th overall in the 2012 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) national competition hosted by the University of Nevada in Reno. 

The team beat nine other collegiate teams from across the country, including Clemson, Oregon State, Louisiana Tech and Rutgers. 

The team’s entry — called the “Revolution” — placed seventh in the contest’s Final Product category.  

“The Nationals was an extremely competitive event,” says Dean John Ting of the Francis College of Engineering. “Our students did well to make it to the finals and to place so highly in our first appearance in 18 years. It’s a tribute to our past students and especially the present.”

The annual ASCE competition challenges students to design, construct and race canoes made of concrete that are strong yet lighter than water. This year’s top honors went to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, followed by the University of Laval and Michigan Tech in second and third spots, respectively. 

UMass Lowell’s Revolution, which was molded from a specially formulated lightweight concrete mix and reinforced with carbon-fiber mesh, measures 20 feet long, 30 inches wide and 14 inches deep, and weighs 208 pounds. Its half-inch-thick concrete hull is light yet very strong — it has a tensile strength of 520 pounds per square inch and a compression strength of nearly 3,000 pounds per square inch. To qualify for racing, it had to pass a “swamp” test in which the canoe is filled with water and pushed below the surface; the canoe must resurface on its own.

UMass Lowell earned a spot in the finals because of its strong second-place finish behind the University of Laval during the ASCE Northeast regional contest in April.

“We are grateful to Provost Ahmed Abdelal for helping support the team, especially with the travel costs of going to the Nationals,” says Ting. “Incidentally, we did not have to pay for shipping the canoe back to Lowell — the University of Florida has agreed to take ownership of our canoe and transport it to its campus in Gainesville, where the university promised to give the canoe a good home!”

For more information about the ASCE national competition, go to To see photos of the races, visit the Francis College of Engineering’s Facebook page.