The term ‘concrete canoe’ seems like an oxymoron to most, but to the dedicated students of UW Madison’s concrete canoe team it’s a challenge. Over 30 students from Madison come together annually to compete in the engineering contest.
Separated into four separate categories, the competition requires students to excel across multiple disciplines including manufacturing, technical writing, public speaking, and paddling.
According to Nick Brunstad, TEAMLab Instructor and concrete canoe project manager, the competition is an immensely rewarding experience. “I enjoy teaching fellow students technical skills to help them in their careers as well as encouraging new members to be creative problem solvers.”
Two weeks after placing first in all categories of the regional competition, the students push on. Since the boat itself can no longer be altered, the team’s focus between now and nationals is the academic and physical portions.
“We’ve been going to the gym twice a week to prepare,” stated Brunstad.
Things seem to be looking up for the UW Madison team, which hasn’t placed in a national competition since 2011.
“We have the best chance to win this year than we have in recent memory,” added Brunstad. More than any other year, the members have been dedicated “to deliver the highest quality canoe that [they] possibly could.”
On June 6th, the concrete canoe team will travel to Melbourne, Florida for the national competition. To stay updated on their progress, follow @uwmadteamlab.
Author: Anna Sipek
Photo Credits: Emma Noraian and Emily Thierry