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Release: Immediate

UI College of Engineering Hosts April 26 Concrete Canoe Contest

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Although it may not be an Olympic sport, concrete canoe racing will be in the spotlight when the University of Iowa College of Engineering hosts the 1997 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Midwest Regional Concrete Canoe Competition featuring entrants from seven Midwestern universities at 1 p.m., Saturday, April 26 at the West Overlook of the Coralville Reservoir.

Following a 9 a.m. session in which teams will give technical presentations and displays on canoe design, the formal competition will begin at about 1 p.m. in five, two-person events: men's sprint; men's long-distance; women's sprint; women'slong-distance; and coed sprint.

The reward for the winning team is a trip to the ASCE National Competition in Cleveland, Ohio later this year. But according to Marc Nelson, ASCE student chapter president and canoe competition chair, the contest is about much more than racing.

"The Concrete Canoe Competition is a really fun event in which we, as young engineers, get to use a lot of what we've learned in class, as well as our own ideas, to design the lightest and fastest canoe out of a typically non-buoyant material," he says. "It takes a great deal of time to research different concrete mix designs and canoe shape designs to obtain a lightweight mix without sacrificing too much strength and to pick a shape that has good straight-line speed, but is also maneuverable."

"It's definitely a challenge," he says.

Forrest M. Holly, UI professor and chair of civil and environmental engineering, says that as coordinator in charge of the competition he often receives comments from people who doubt a concrete canoe can float. His ready response: "Have you ever been on a steel ship?"

In addition to the UI team, universities represented in the competition include: the University of Minnesota, Iowa State University, the University of Wisconsin at Platteville, South Dakota State, North Dakota State, and the University of North Dakota. The UI won the competition when it hosted the event on the flood-swollen Coralville Reservoir in 1993.