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NMSU's concrete canoe to compete in national competition

It's made of concrete and it floats like a champion.

NMSU concrete canoe team members (front to back) Logan Ross, Kara Hickey, Sandra Chavez and Fernando Sanchez row their way to victory in the regional competition hosted by NMSU earlier this month. (Photo by J. Victor Espinosa)

It's the New Mexico State University concrete canoe, "Billy the Kid," which took first place among seven competitive events during the annual American Society of Civil Engineers 2010 Rocky Mountain Regional Conference hosted at NMSU April 8-10. The NMSU canoe team will now go on to represent the Rocky Mountain Region at the National Concrete Canoe Competition set for June 17-19 at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

NMSU's Daniel B. Jett student chapter of ASCE was represented by 45 students who took second place overall, competing in seven different events: concrete canoe, steel bridge, can-struction, technical paper, non-technical paper, pre-design and mystery design. More than 350 civil engineering students from 15 universities in Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado and New Mexico competed in the event.

"The purpose of the conference is to provide civil engineering students an opportunity to gain practical experience and leadership skills they need once they graduate and become involved in projects critical to society's welfare," said Adrian Delgadillo, president of ASCE and captain of the concrete canoe team.

NMSU's 22-person concrete canoe team is comprised of 4 freshmen, 3 sophomores, 9 juniors and 6 seniors who completed more than 3,000 man-hours of work over the course of a year to complete their entry. The inspiration for NMSU's canoe this year was Billy the Kid. Many universities only allow upperclassmen to make final design decisions; however it was a freshman team member who brought his artistic talents to the design.

At the beginning of the academic year, the students are given rules for the competition along with model specifications and deadlines for completion of particular tasks. Concrete canoes are judged in four categories: final product, technical paper, oral presentation and canoe races.

The students' final products are judged for workmanship and measured to determine how well they met the design specifications. During this test canoes are completely submerged in water (swamped) and are given five minutes to float back to the surface. If a canoe cannot float back to the surface, the canoe is disqualified from competition.

Technical papers detailing the project planning, budget and methodology are submitted and judged prior to the actual competition. Additionally, students explain how their canoe was designed and built in oral presentations at the competition.

The last and most exciting of the canoe competitions are the races, when students get into their canoes and paddle against each other to test their design and stamina.

In other ASCE competition events:

? NMSU placed third with their replica of the Roman Coliseum, made with 1,500 cans of food in the can-struction event. In total more than 13,000 cans of food were collected by all the schools competing in this event and donated to four local charities.

? NMSU students placed second for their technical paper and fourth for their non-technical papers in the competition, judged on the quality of the material presented and the quality of the presentation.

? The NMSU team placed third in the pre-design competition, for which they were required to build and test a hydraulic ram pump based on rules they received last September. Judges rated the pumps based on performance, material costs and innovation.

? NMSU took second place in the mystery design competition, during which teams are provided with design specifications and materials and are given two hours to complete the project. This year students had to determine the height of a flagpole by using a measuring tape, two stakes and a hammer.

"We received numerous compliments from the participating universities about the hospitality they received here in Las Cruces, and they especially loved the beautiful weather since they were coming from up north," said Delgadillo.

"The NMSU faculty, staff and students really showed their support for our team, as many of them attended the three-day event," he added.

"The Concrete Canoe team is set and ready to go to the national competition. All we have to do is practice our oral presentation," said Delgadillo.

For more information on ASCE, visit http://cagesun.nmsu.edu/~asce/.