Racers, Start Your Paddles

By Patricia Ressell-Deras

Staff Writer

On April 14, 2019 at Cooks Pond, three rowing teams made up of FDU students will prepare to race against competing colleges at a chance to take home the prize. What makes this race unique is that the canoe that the teams are going to be racing in is made up of concrete.

Fairleigh Dickinson Metropolitan Campus is home to over 60 clubs and organizations. Some are involved in specific interests and hobbies, some are heritage-based, some are dedicated to volunteering, and others are academic and professional. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is one of the clubs offered.

The FDU’s American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter is a part of a bigger global group. The American Society of Civil Engineers is a global organization that consists of over 100,000 people in the civil engineering field, in over 150 countries. The ASCE was founded in 1852, making it one of America’s oldest engineering society.

The ASCE has been on the Metropolitan campus for over 13 years. This student chapter includes a mission that values community, teamwork, social and professional interaction. One of the activities that ASCE participates in is the concrete canoe team. This competitive team applies engineering concepts they have learned to a “hands-on” project. A perfect opportunity for kinetic learners.

In order to understand just what all goes into the making of a concrete canoe, The Equinox interviewed the team’s faculty advisor, Professor Alizadeh.

The process begins in the fall semester. “The fall semester is about management,” Professor Alizadeh said. The president, John Garcia, and his team have to manage what materials they need, file the correct paperwork, and other responsibilities.

“Everything needs to be ready in the fall semester,” Professor Alizadeh said.

First, the team has to draw and design a form board for the shape of the canoe. Once they settle on the final design, the team has to file paperwork with the Student Government Association to approve the purchase of necessary materials.

Once approved and materials are purchased, the design is sent to a third-party manufacturer to create the form board out of Styrofoam. All this needs to be done by the end of the semester in order for the casting to begin in the spring semester.

In the first two weeks of the spring semester, the team spends a whole day pouring concrete into the form board to cast it. Afterwards, for four weeks the concrete has to be maintained in stable conditioning for it to set. And presto, a concrete canoe.

But, the work is not done yet. Once it has set the team has to get it out of the form board to sand it. After sanding for a couple of hours, the team can begin with finishing touches to the canoe.

Additionally, the team has to build a stand for the canoe to sit on when the team is presenting it to the panel of judges and when it is not being used.

Due to this event being an ASCE event, it is not just about rowing component. The Friday before the race, on April 12, each student chapter that is participating will have a chance to present their canoe before a panel of judges.

This year the concrete canoe competition will be hosted at New York City College of Technology, where the judging will happen. And the racing of the canoes will take place at Cooks Pond in New Jersey.