Concrete Canoe Competition

MSU Home
        Department of Civil Engineering        MN Section        YMG        MSPE        MSU-EWB


Concrete Canoe

 What is Concrete Canoe?

The concrete canoe competition provides students with a practical application of the engineering principles they learn in the classroom, along with important team and project management skills they'll need in their careers. The event will challenge the knowledge, creativity and stamina of students, while showcasing the versatility and durability of concrete as a building material.

The 2010-2011 academic years will be our eighth year of competition.  Each year has been a learning experience, and we hope to keep improving as we have in past years.

What goes into making a canoe from concrete?

We have a complete in-house operation, where we design and construct our hull, as well as design a high strength, low weight mix.  The unit weight of concrete is around 150 pcf with an ultimate compressive stress between 1,500 psi and 10,000 psi.  Through many months of research and the use of new, sustainable materials, we were able to drop the unit weight down to 55 pcf while maintaining a 7-day compressive strength of 1500 psi. This concrete is lighter than the unit weight of water, 62.4 pcf, so that even if the canoe was fully submerged, it would still float!

Part of the challenge of building a canoe out of concrete is how to prevent cracking. This year, the team introduced a pre-stressed cable design that would allow the canoe to flex without cracking.  Ten cables were used, each with a force of 325 lbs. Two layers of fiberglass mesh were also utilized for added strength.


The year of hard work culminates at the completion where we race the canoe against teams from eight other universities in the region.  The judging criteria are based on a formal design report which contains our research and design for the year, a presentation at the competition which describes the construction of the canoe, the overall final product which includes aesthetics, and the canoe races.  We were  extremely competitive in the 2011 Midwest Competition placing 1st overall. The event was held in Detroit Lakes, MN and, unfortunately, the cold weather did not allow the races to be held this year. However, the team tied for 1st in the oral presentation and the final product categories and 2nd in the design paper.  The team will now advance to the National Competition in Evansville, Indiana held June 16-18.

2011 Pour Day/Construction


2011 National Competition in Evansville, IN

National Competition