WMU to host regional steel bridge, concrete canoe competitions

Contact: Kara Kuchinic
Concrete canoe team members lean over a Styrofoam mold and trowel on concrete.

WMU's concrete canoe team at work

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Students from 10 universities in Michigan and Ohio will test their engineering skills during two challenging regional contests Friday through Sunday, April 6-8, at Western Michigan University.

Members of the public are invited to watch as teams compete to build a steel bridge and a concrete canoe as part of the American Society of Civil Engineers North Central Regional Competition. The teams will be competing in a variety of categories in both contests in hopes of advancing to the national finals.

This year's key public events kick off at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 7, and run throughout the day in Floyd Hall on the University's Parkview Campus. Concrete canoe races will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 8, at Ramona Park in Portage.

WMU engineering students participate each year in the ASCE regional competition and have the opportunity to host the event every 10 years. Industry professionals will judge the nine concrete canoe teams and nine steel bridge teams participating for 2018.

"The concrete canoe and steel bridge competitions have a long tradition of fostering teamwork and camaraderie," says Dr. Osama Abudayyeh, WMU professor and chair of civil and construction engineering. "The event provides students with a chance to gain hands-on, practical experience and leadership skills while dealing with real-world engineering issues."

Steel Bridge Team

The steel bridge team designs, fabricates and constructs a scale-model bridge based on criteria established by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Institute of Steel Construction.

The competition involves building a 1:10 scale bridge that is evaluated on lightness, stiffness, construction speed, construction economy, structural efficiency and overall performance. An award is also given for display. WMU's bridge must be 17 feet with a clearance of 7.5 inches and be able to hold 2,500 pounds.

"We're a relatively young group, but we feel like we've learned a lot from last year," says Jacob Zahm, steel bridge team captain. "We've specifically been focused on making the bridge easier to fabricate and assemble, and we've been making good progress so far. And we're looking forward to the competition this year especially since it's being held at WMU."

Concrete Canoe Team

WMU's entry in this year's concrete canoe competition is named Golden Opportunity, and for the second year, was produced using a "female" mold rather than the typical "male" mold. The concrete was troweled inside the Styrofoam mold, rather than the outside.

"We have a relatively young team this year, with a lot of newcomers," says Ethan Carpenter, team captain. "We are pushing hard to win this year and get the new team prepared for the future."

The team's canoe will be judged in categories such as hull design and aesthetics as well as its performance in a number of different races. The competition also involves a display and presentation of the concrete canoe, as well as a separate technical paper.

Additional information

For directions to WMU and campus maps, visit wmich.edu/maps/print. More information about the ASCE regional competition is available from the WMU students spearheading the event. Matthew Moulton, competition chair, may be reached at matthew.d.moulton@wmich.edu. Zahm, steel bridge team captain, may be reached at (616) 438-8771. Carpenter, concrete canoe team captain, may be reached at (616) 401-5503.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.