LAWRENCE — The concrete canoe team from the University of Kansas School of Engineering is headed to a national competition. The group took first place in the Mid-Continent Regional Concrete Canoe Competition last week at the University of Arkansas. The win gives the team the opportunity to compete at the national competition in June.
"I'm thrilled,” said Brittany Multer, a junior in civil engineering and co-captain of the team. “We always hope for the best, but it's always an amazing shock to hear all your hard work paid off."
The competition has several components. Teams must build the canoes — KU has been at work on design and construction since this year’s rules were released in the fall — and make a presentation about the project. Then, the moment of truth: Students have to prove the boats actually work in a series of races.
Pitted against teams from 13 colleges and universities across Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Illinois, KU’s entry earned first place in the “design report” category for a technical paper describing the design and construction of the craft; the team took third place for its oral presentation describing the process, as well as second place for the quality of its product. After that, the team raced well enough to give it first place in the overall competition.
Multer said KU’s entry, a canoe named “Voyager,” won because of the team’s attention to detail.
"Our design was pretty intricate,” she said. "And we spent a lot of time sanding our canoe, which a lot of teams don't do. One of the judges touched our boat and said, 'Smooth.'"
The team can’t change anything about the canoe itself for the national competition, but Multer said it was likely members will work on “stepping up their game” to improve the design report and oral presentation for the national competition.
"It's a huge source of pride and accomplishment. We've all put so much time and effort into it," Multer said of KU’s regional victory. "We couldn't be more excited. We're all so invested in the results."
The national competition will take place June 17-19 at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. This marks KU’s second trip to nationals in the past four years. The 2014 team earned the national Spirit of the Competition Award for its efforts.