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WKU finishes 5th in Concrete Canoe Competition

Faculty Advisor Jason Wilson (back row, left to right), Meaghan Czarnecki, Jaxson McAplin, Isabel Gray, Caleb Massey, Evan Brittenham, Cole Hollinsworth, Dylan Stephens, Ethan Newborn, Sophia Adams, Sarah Holt, Hunter Fred, Keeley McKnight, Leah Bell, Kaya Goertz, Carelynn Hartmann and Tyler Baker (faculty advisor) stand behind WKU’s concrete canoe in Utah on June 20. Laken Moffitt (left) and Dylan Jackson hold the WKU flag. Photo provided by Dylan Stephens.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on June 26 to include additional information from Civil Engineering Program Coordinator Jason Wilson.

WKU civil engineering students traveled to Brigham Young University in Utah this past weekend and brought home a fifth place overall finish in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Concrete Canoe Competition.

The team competed against schools from across the world in different events: a technical presentation, a technical paper, a final product and five races.

The competition took place from June 20-22, and WKU finished fifth in the overall category. The top five teams included WKU, Virginia Tech, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, Universite Laval (Quebec, Canada) and the University of Florida finished first overall.

WKU’s canoe which was named “HORSEPOWER.” Stephens said the name and design was inspired by the 150th Kentucky Derby. Photo provided by Dylan Stephens

In other categories, WKU:

  • Finished first in best Final Product
  • Finished third in the Men’s Slalom
  • Finished third in the Women’s Slalom
  • Finished fourth in the Women’s Sprint

“Although we felt we could have gotten better, I am really proud that we won first in final product,” Dylan Stephens, newly graduated team member, told the Herald on Tuesday.

Winning the Final Product category, Stephens said, means that WKU had what was considered the best canoe out of all the schools.

“And most of these schools having more students, budget and overall money constructing the canoe itself,” Stephens said. “So we were able to make a cheaper, lighter and durable concrete canoe that won final product.”

The Concrete Canoe Competition, Stephens said, is taken seriously by WKU Civil Engineering. Throughout the year, he said, students put in countless hours of designing, testing and constructing a canoe that competes with the best schools around the country.

The competition’s rules are released around Labor Day every year, Jason Wilson, WKU civil engineering and construction management program coordinator, said in an email to the Herald on Wednesday. Each canoe entered into the competition must be produced during the academic year, and many of WKU’s seniors have been involved for several years, he said.

The concrete canoe competition may not seem significant, Wilson said, but it’s much more than about building a canoe.

“Each year, the WKU Concrete Canoe team faces the challenge of redesigning and improving from the previous year,” Wilson said. “It’s a true test of leadership, communication and teamwork.”

In April, the team traveled to Purdue University Northwest in Hammond, Indiana, and won the 2024 American Society of Civil Engineers Indiana-Kentucky Student Symposium, which qualified them for the international competition.

For the first time, Wilson said, WKU’s team has placed fifth or higher in three consecutive years, and WKU is one of four teams to place in the top 10 within the last three years.

“We were able to learn how to work as a team on a project where we had many tasks and deadlines to meet,” Stephens said. “Continually competing with some of the best ASCE programs in the country, we are fortunate to learn and grow every year.”

WKU’s American Society of Civil Engineers student chapter is a top student chapter in the world, Wilson said. Every year in the fall semester, Ogden College hosts a student chapter fair, and Wilson encourages students to find the chapter’s booth for more information.

As for the seniors, Wilson is confident in their skills and knowledge for the future.

“All these seniors have already started or will soon start their careers,” Wilson said. “They have worked hard in and out of the classroom to earn their degrees, and I know they are ready for whatever challenge their employer gives them.”

Dylan Jackson (rear) and Cole Hollinsworth paddle WKU’s concrete canoe on June 21. Photo provided by Dylan Stephens.

The 2024 WKU Concrete Canoe Team members include:

  • Sophia Adams
  • Leah Bell of Monticello
  • Evan Brittenham of Bowling Green
  • Ryan Bruce of Whitley City
  • Meaghan Czarnecki of Georgetown
  • Hunter Fred of Pegram, Tennessee
  • Kaya Goertz
  • Isabel Gray of London, Kentucky
  • Ryan Greenwood of Louisville
  • Carelynn Hartmann of Dry Ridge
  • Sarah Holt of Springfield, Tennessee
  • Dylan Jackson of Bowling Green
  • Mitchell Johnson of Evansville, Indiana
  • Caleb Massey of Bowling Green
  • Jaxson McAplin of Somerset
  • Keeley McKnight of Danville
  • Laken Moffitt of Wingo
  • Ethan Newborn
  • Rob Skipworth of Russellville
  • Dylan Stephens of Lawrenceburg

News reporter Cameron Shaw can be reached at [email protected].





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