Concrete Canoe Team rows to nationals

By Shawn Bowen, @ShawnBowen_DE

Winning a race in a boat made of concrete would seem ridiculous to many, but one group of SIU students rowed such a boat past all other regional competitors.

The Concrete Canoe Team, sponsored by the SIU chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, won its regional competition last weekend at the University of Kansasand will move on to the national competition for the first time in the 20-year history of the team.

Sanjeev Kumar, chairman of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said he is confident the team will do well at nationals because of its determination and hard work.


“It’s more than a six-month process to go through — getting their design ready, their materials ready — and it’s a whole team effort the day they pour the concrete,” Kumar said.

Team captain Michael Esker said the process of creating the canoe begins with deciding which type of concrete and shape would be best.

This year’s team has 18 active members, but to create the boats, the team was divided into four sub-teams so everyone can participate.

The canoe’s mold was made with help from the architecture department’s Computer Numerical Control machine. The machine can take a computer-aided design file and make precise cuts of the design out of plywood.

The boat stretches 18 feet 9 inches long and is painted black with “007” in white on the side. To continue the James Bond theme, the boat also features “Carbondale Royale” painted on the outer wall.

Esker, a senior from Teutopolis studying civil engineering, said although this year’s team deserves enormous credit for bringing home the trophy, the concrete canoe tradition is passed down from year-to-year with contributions from past members.

“Some of the guys that I had on the team last year came up with some excellent ideas that we re-used this year and were able to perfect,” he said.


The national competition will be held at Clemson University June 20 to 22.

Shawn Bowen can be reached at [email protected]