Posted: Sunday, April 5, 2016 12:00 am
By Joe Gamm Greensboro News & Record

GREENSBORO — If people looked twice when they saw canoes racing on Lake Townsend on Friday, they
can’t be blamed.

“It includes fiberglass mesh reinforcement between two layers of concrete,” said Matthew Dinsmore,
a team captain. “The concrete density is less than water. I think we’re going to do very well.”

After all, some of the canoes had a very Flintstones-like appearance. That’s because they were made
out of concrete. Yes, concrete.

For the first time in eight years, N.C. A&T engineering students hosted the annual meeting of the
Carolinas Conference of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The competition included university teams from North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Three
international universities also competed.

Early Friday morning, teams carried their canoes to the water’s edge at Lake Townsend Marina.
Some were sleek and thin. Others were, well, rougher.

The canoe presented by the University of Georgia was thick and heavy — and about 400 pounds. To be
fair, this was the first year the school has competed in the races.
“We’ve got a canoe,” student Max Ovett said. “It floats.”


Whether it would sink was still in question as the competition began. Before the canoes were allowed
in the race, they had to go through something called a “swamp test.”

That involved students carrying their canoes into the shallows and filling them with water. If they
remained at the surface, they could race.Most bobbed back up quickly.

Georgia’s 400-pound canoe, however, left the school’s students tense. They filled it with water,
pushed it under the surface and then watched. And watched.

A few seconds later, it came back up, drawing a cheer from bystanders.

UNC-Charlotte didn’t bring a 400-pound canoe. Instead, the school entered something called “Gold
Rush” — a white bullet of a vessel that weighed about 120 pounds.

Students sprayed a specially developed concrete onto a form to create the canoe’s sides, less than
an inch thick.

The concrete canoe race was one of three events that tested the engineering prowess of students.
On Saturday, there was a bridge-building competition. The event was like it sounds: Students
designed and built a steel bridge to certain specifications. The students were timed as they worked.
When they were done, the bridge was judged on whether, you know, it was a bridge.

And this wouldn’t be an engineering competition without a written paper. One student from each of
the nine universities in the Carolinas Conference presented a professional ethics paper to be

Results of the competitions were to be announced at a banquet Saturday night.