ASCE Pacific Regional Conference – Concrete Canoe Design

Client name: Dr. Joshua Hewes (

Team Name: Concrete Canoe

Names of Members and Contact Information:

·         Marlo Abramowitz - Capstone Team Captain / Concrete Mix Designer, email:

·         Cristina Behrens - Conference Team Captain / Reinforcement Design Lead, email:

·         Lindsey Childers - Structural Design / Analysis Lead, email:

·         Kristen Solleveld - Concrete Mix Design Lead / Treasurer, email:

·         Linda Waters - Software Analysis Lead, email:

From left: Marlo Abramowitz, Kristen Soleveld, Lindsey Childers, Linda Waters,Cristina Behrens.

Problem Description

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) holds an annual conference featuring various design competition, one such competition is the Concrete Canoe Challenge. Teams from universities around the country are challenged to design, test, and construct a watercraft made from an innovative concrete mix. Throughout the course of the year, the team will use technical skills to design and construct a concrete canoe to compete with at the regional ASCE conference.


Description of Final Product


Scope of Services

The following scope of services provides a breakdown of the necessary tasks involved in the 2012 NAU ASCE Concrete Canoe project. The scope includes the following tasks:


Task 1- Project Management

Task 2- Hull Structural Analysis

Task 3- Concrete Mix Design

Task 4- Reinforcement Design

Task 5- Construction

Task 6- Pacific Southwest Regional Competition (PSWRC)


Task 1: Project Management

Project Management is a vital part of this project and it enhances student’s skills in this specialized area. To obtain this goal the team will practice this skill in the following year.



1.1 Scheduling

This task consists of creating a project schedule that the team will adhere to. Scheduling is important because it eliminates discrepancies, improves efficiency, provides a better understanding of what is expected, and provides monitoring and maintaining of the work required. The team decided to make a timeline of deadlines working backwards from the date of the PSWRC conference. It was also scheduled such that the team will meet at least three times a week, once with Dr. Hewes with all members of the team, once with all members of the team to discuss incorporating Dr. Hewes’ input and lastly each member of the team would meet with Dr. Hewes one on one to discuss each individuals specific tasks. The team will additionally set specific milestones to be completed throughout the next two semesters.


Deliverables: Project schedule


1.2 Budget

This task consists of creating a project budget. A proposed budget suggested by the client, Dr. Hewes, was a total of $2000.  Due to a lack of funding and sponsorship it was decided that designing and constructing a new mold would be disadvantageous to the 2012 NAU concrete canoe team and would save an abundance of money and time. The team is also going to inventory excess materials left over from previous Concrete Canoe teams in order to reduce the chance of duplicate orders and the team is going to use as much of the materials as possible in their design to save money. Another way the team plans to conserve funds is by requesting donations from different companies and perhaps holding a fundraiser.


            Deliverables: Purchase receipts, expense spreadsheet


Task 2: Hull Structural Analysis

Task two will be composed of analyzing the canoe hull for compressive strength. This involves modeling the canoe in various computer programs and creating an analysis by hand. The following subsections below discuss the various aspects of the analysis.


2.1 Research

This task consists of researching potential hull designs to be used for the canoe. The watercraft hull will be designed to meet the 2012 American Society of Civil Engineers National Concrete Canoe Competition Rules and Regulations regarding hull design. Length, width and hull cross section dimensions will match or be designed within the given constraints of the competition. The team will ensure that all rules and regulations are followed when designing the watercraft hull.


            Deliverables: Background summary


2.2 Hand-Calculations

This task consists of producing essential hand calculations. The team will complete a structural analysis of the hull design. Modeling the canoe as a simply supported beam, the team will develop loading estimates and calculate the maximum moments experienced by the canoe under the various loading conditions. The team will develop a series of load cases to analyze, both extreme and probable loading conditions. Canoe cross sections will be evaluated to find the neutral axis and to compute the compressive strength of the reinforced concrete. The calculations will be used to design the hull thickness and concrete reinforcement. The analysis will be utilized in designing the gunwales, thwarts, ribs and bulkheads. The calculations will be done by hand and checked by at least two team members for correctness and completeness.


            Deliverables: Structural analysis calculations, loading diagrams


2.3 Computer Calculations

This task consists of using computer programs to calculate necessary elements of the structural design. After completing the hand calculations to model loading and determine the concrete compressive stresses for canoe sections, the team will simulate the canoe design using Prolines and SAP 2000 software. Using Prolines the waterline for a loaded canoe will be calculated, and used to determine the hydrastatic forces acting on the loaded canoe. In SAP 2000 the team will check the developed hand calculations with the computer software outputs, comparing the calculated compressive stresses. This analysis will also be used in designing the gunwales, thwarts, ribs and bulkheads.



            Deliverables: FEA detail report, SAP 2000 printouts, Prolines drawings



Task 3: Concrete Mix Design

Task three will be composed of research, calculations, material selection, ordering materials, material acquisition, and testing samples. The purpose of the mix design is to minimize the concrete unit weight while maximizing compression strength. These sub-tasks will be discussed further in the following subsections. 


3.1 Research

This task consists of researching concrete materials to aid in the mix design. Research will consist of searching for aggregates, admixtures, cementitious materials, and guidance on formulating mix designs that meet rules criteria in the 2011-2012 ASCE NCCC Rules and Regulations.


            Deliverables: Background summary


3.2 Calculations

This task consists of calculating necessary elements to assist in the concrete mix design. Calculations for mix design will include finding the unit weight, compressive strength, water-to-cement ratio, and flexural strength.  The mass of concrete, volume of concrete, density, yield and air content values will also be calculated.The amount and volume of materials needed for batching and testing, as well as calculating the amount needed for the final mix will also be included in the scope of services.


            Deliverables: Mix spreadsheets, hand back-up check


3.3 Design/Material Selection

This task consists of selecting the concrete materials in which the team will test and potentially use for the final concrete canoe. Design of concrete mix requires selecting aggregates, admixtures, and cementitious materials to formulate unique design mixes that satisfy rules and requirements as well as provide strong, lightweight concrete. Possible aggregates include: VCAS Pozzolan, Cenospheres, K1 Microspheres, and Poraver. Possible admixtures include: Water Reducer, Air Entrainer, and Superplasticizers. Selection of these aggregates and admixtures for the final mix for the concrete canoe will be based on test results described in the following subsection.


            Deliverables: Material list


Description: S:\Groups\ASCE\2009-2010\Concrete Canoe\construction pics\IMG_0999.JPG3.4 Testing

This task consists of testing the concrete materials. Testing consists of loading cylinders containing different cement mixes with a Tinius Olsen Tensile Testing Machine. Comparing the compression strength results from the cylinder tests will help determine the concrete mixture with the lowest unit weight while maintaining the desirable compression strength. 


Deliverables: Test result spreadsheet



Task 4: Reinforcement Design

Task four will be composed of research, calculations, material selection,ordering materials, material acquisition, and testing samples. These sub-tasks will be discussed further in the following subsections.The reinforcement standards that will be referenced include ASTM 1116 (Standard Specification for Fiber-Reinforced Concrete and Shotcrete)

Description: S:\Groups\ASCE\2009-2010\ASCE Pictures\Concrete Canoe\IMG_1710.JPG

4.1 Research

This task consists of researching the various types of possible reinforcement materials including fiberglass, carbon fiber, basalt, polypropylene, etc. and the various types of reinforcement such as bars, tendons, mesh, and fibers. The reinforcement that will be selected for design will have a sufficiently high tensile strength according to the structural analysis of the canoe, will be appropriate with respect to the project budget, and will conform to the 2012 NCCC Rules and Regulations. Testing of the reinforcement will not be necessary unless the

team is unable to procure reinforcement materials with manufacturer provided engineering properties such as Warp and Weft tensile strengths, modulus of elasticity, and the area of the material.


If manufacturer engineering property data sheets such as Material Technical Data Sheets are not available for the reinforcement selected, tensile testing using a device such as an Intron machine will be performed on the reinforcement to determine the strength. This test will allow the Warp and Weft strengths of the material to be analyzed which will aid in determining which direction to place the reinforcement to optimize the tensile properties. If there is an additional benefit determined from the structural analysis, more than one type of compliant reinforcement may be utilized. If the area of the material is not provided by the manufacturer, it will have to be measured using calipers or other devices to accurately measure small thicknesses. After the area is determined, the POA will need to be calculated by dividing the Open Area (area of apertures) by the total area of the reinforcement specimen then multiplying by 100 [%].


            Deliverables: Background summary


4.2 Secondary Reinforcement

This task consists of selecting a secondary reinforcement if the primary reinforcement is not sufficient in providing adequate tensile strength to resist the tensile stresses that will be induced by the loading of the canoe. The need for secondary reinforcement will be determined from the structural analysis.. Secondary reinforcement that improves the tensile and flexural characteristics of the concrete may be used and will not be required to conform to the POA regulations. Secondary reinforcement may include dispersed basalt, carbon fiber, fiberglass, etc. fibers within the concrete matrix or steel, basalt, etc. post-tensioning tendons/cables. The benefits of secondary reinforcement will be researched and their use will be based on their increase in tensile strngth vs. cost and time available. Fibers shall not be considered an aggregate in any concrete mixture.


            Deliverables: Material list and information


4.3 Reinforcement Layout/ Calculations

This task consists of calculating the necessary elements for the design of the reinforcement. Calculations will be performed to determine the Percent Open Area (POA) and the design/ layout of the reinforcement within the concrete.


The reinforcement design will be selected based on the outputs from the structural analysis calculations for both longitudinal and traverse stresses induced in the concrete canoe. Additionally, an ultimate tensile strength along with tensile stresses that will induce failure will be determined from the structural analysis to aid in the reinforcement design.


The reinforcement layout will use materials that contain adequate open space which is measured in terms of POA to allow for mechanical bonding of the concrete composite. The total reinforcement layers will be equal to or less than 50% of the total thickness of the reinforced concrete composite. Additionally, the reinforcements will not have post-manufactured applied coatings to enhance the properties and performance of the reinforcement, nor will the reinforcement consist of solid mats or plates.


            Deliverables: Hand calculation documentation


Task 5: Construction

The majority of the construction will be completed at the pavilion at the CECMEE Field Station located on NAU’s South Campus just south of the Rolle Activity Center. The construction will take place after the hull design, concrete design, and reinforcement design are completed. The Concrete Canoe Team will be in charge of the construction process and will enforce safety during portions of construction that will require additional help from NAU ASCE chapter members. The walls at Trotta’s farm will be erected and necessary materials will be transported from the engineering building to the Farm prior to construction.


5.1 Site Preparation

This task consists of prepping the site of the concrete pour. The walls of the pavilion will be erected and necessary materials will be transported from the engineering building to the pavilion prior to construction.


            Deliverables: Pour-ready site


5.2 Strongback Preparation

This task consists of acquiring the strongback and preparing it for prepping. The strongback that will be used to support the mold and the hull during construction, pouring, and finishing for the 2012 ASCE Concrete Canoe is the same strongback that was used for the 2011 ASCE Concrete Canoe.


            Deliverables: Strongback ready for pour


5.3 Mold Preparation

This task consists of prepping the mold for the concrete pour. The mold that will be used for the 2012 ASCE Concrete Canoe is the same wood strip female mold that was constructed and used by the 2011 ASCE Concrete Canoe Team.

Description: S:\Groups\ASCE\2010-2011\Concrete Canoe\Photos\Mold Construction Pics\IMG_0403.JPG

      Deliverables: Mold ready for pour










5.4 Pouring Concrete

This task consists of pouring the concrete into the canoe mold. Pouring of the concrete will occur at Trotta’s Farm and NAU ASCE chapter members will be solicited for help however the Concrete Canoe Team will be in charge of ensuring all safety procedures are followed and monitoring the thickness of the hull. The concrete will be poured in several layers of designated thicknesses with the appropriate reinforcement placed between each layer.

Description: S:\Groups\ASCE\2010-2011\Concrete Canoe\Photos\Photos\IMG_1410.JPG

In order to ensure the proper thickness of each layer is maintained, a method for monitoring the thickness during pouring will be developed. The  concrete layer thickness monitoring method may include drawing tick marks on toothpicks to depict the desired thickness of each layer and poking them into the concrete as it is being troweled. An additional method may be to fabricate rollers made out of short lengths of pipe with a smaller diameter in the middle such that there is a gap between the two ends with a depth equaling the desired concrete layer thickness. This would allow the roller to smooth the concrete at a relatively uniform thickness.


            Deliverables: Concrete canoe poured


5.5 Curing Concrete

This task consists of curing the poured concrete. After the concrete pouring is complete, the concrete canoe will be cured for at least 21 days using an ASTM curing method. The application of a curing compound or a curing and sealing compound may be used but must meet the requirements of ASTM C 309 or ASTM C 1315 with a volatile organic content (VOC) less than or equal to 350 [g/L] (and stated as such on the product data sheet). Liquid membrane-forming compounds used for curing concrete are limited to maximum of 2 coats and must be applied according to the manufacturer’s recommended procedures and thickness.


            Deliverables: Cured canoe ready for finishing


5.6 Finishing

This task consists of finishing the canoe. Finishing of the canoe may begin between 14-28 days after the concrete has been poured, but no sooner. The canoe will be patched in places where there are imperfections/holes using appropriate methods as outlined in the 2012 NCCC rules and regulations. The canoe will then be sanded to eliminate any other imperfections, to improve the hydrodynamics and efficiency of the streamlines, and to improve the aesthetics. Next the canoe will be sealed so that water can not penetrate through or be absorbed by the concrete. To enhance the aesthetics of the canoe, stains, paints, and adhesive appliqués in compliance with ASTM C 979 (Specifications for Pigments for Integrally Colored Concrete) may be applied to designated areas of the canoe in the form of graphics and lettering. Proper documentation for the finishing of the canoe will be provided in the form of Material Technical Data Sheets (MTDS).


The following rules with be adhered to when finishing the canoe:

a.        All materials used for the canoe must be environmentally safe

b.      The school name is to be displayed conspicuously on the exterior surface of the canoe and be visible above the waterline on both sides.

c.       There are specific dimensions for the lettering and will be followed.

d.      If any graphics are used such as logos and symbols, it is required that they are created using concrete coloring agents and pigments within the concrete mix design

e.       The use of paint and adhesive appliques are limited to the lettering used for the school names.  Specifically formulated stains are allowed to be applied to the canoe but the volatile organic content of the stain may not be more than 350 g/L.

f.       Glitter and other particulate materials are not permitted in the canoe.  There is a maximum of two coats allowed to be applied to the exterior of the canoe.

g.      Concrete sealers are allowed to be applied to any section of the canoe at the preference of the team. The different kinds of sealer to be used may either be silane or siloxane based penetrating sealer with a VOC of no more than 350 g/L or a liquid membrane-forming compound for curing and sealing which is certified to meet the requirements of ASTM C 1315.


Deliverables: Sanded, sealed, and painted canoe ready for conference


5.7 Creating Cutaway Section

This task consists of creating a cutaway section of the canoe. The team will provide at least three feet of a full scale cutaway section that is representative of the raw and finished canoe. The cutaway section will illustrate the mold used, the concrete placement/casting, the reinforcement techniques/layout, and the applied finishing. No additional pictures shall be included except for the labels which properly identify the specific construction elements of the cutaway section.


            Deliverables: Cutaway section built for conference



5.8 Canoe Photography

This task consists of taking photos for documentation purposes. Photos shall be taken during mixing, testing, construction, paddling, and any other necessary aspects of the project. For the Engineer’s notebook, a total of 16 pictures are required including 6 of the mold construction, six of the canoe construction, and 4 of finishing techniques.


Deliverables: Photos of the construction process and finished canoe


Task 6: Pacific Southwest Regional Competition (PSWRC)

The American Society of Civil Engineers hosts a Pacific Southwest Regional Conference (ASCE PSWRC) every year. Teams from numerous universities come together to present and compete in various competitions including the concrete canoe competition. The conference is in Pomona, California from March 22, 2011 to March 24, 2011. Although the main goal for the conference is to have completed a canoe that will be used to compete in the races, there are other items and tasks that need to also be completed by the conference.


6.1 Presentation Preparation

This task consists of the team conducting a five minute technical presentation highlighting the various aspects of the project. Following the presentation, there will be a seven minute question and answer period conducted by the judges. The team will explain the analysis, design and construction of the canoe.


Deliverables: Powerpoint presention


6.2 Display Creation

This task consists of the team presenting a table top display, which includes overhangs, projections, and braces that should be smaller or equal to 30” (W) x 96” (L) x 48” (H). The display shall be placed on a conference table, provided by the team, and will have dimensions no larger than 30” (W) x 96” (L) x 29” (H). The display will be placed on the table and should provide enough space to accommodate all information and samples.


Deliverables: Display


6.3 Design Paper Composition

This task consists of the team writing a design paper to be presented at the conference. The paper will present the project and all of its aspects. It will include a executive summary, and descriptions of the following aspects: hull design, structural analysis, development and testing, construction, project management, sustainability and project schedule. The paper will also include design drawings, mixture proportions tables, a bill of materials and a list of repair procedures.


Deliverables: Design paper


6.4 Canoe Races

This task consists of the concrete canoe constructed by the team being used in races at the ASCE PSWRC. The races will be held in the following courses: the 600-meter endurance course, men’s 200-meter sprint course, women’s 200-sprint course, and the co-ed 400-meter sprint course. Before the canoe is raced, the team needs to acquire gunwale caps, paddles, life jackets, seats and mats.


Deliverables: Trophy, training schedule, paddler selection


6.5 Engineer’s Notebook Composition

This task consists of composing the Engineer’s Notebook. The Engineer’s Notebook is intended to serve as a technical document which contains information related to the design and construction of the canoe. This notebook is required of the team to be submitted at the ASCE PSWRC. The notebook will contain supportive information related to the design and construction of the canoe. It will contain photographs of the construction process, hull thickness and reinforcement calculations, percent open area calculations and technical data sheets of the products used in the canoe.


Deliverables: Engineer’s notebook


7.6 Transportation

This task consists of the team organizing transportation of the canoe to the conference. The team will securely pack the mold with the canoe inside the carrying coffin that was built by the 2011 NAU ASCE Concrete Canoe Team and it will be transported in the new ASCE trailer along with all necessary conference accessories. The team will coordinate packing of the trailer with the 2012 NAU ASCE Steel Bridge Team and will solicit NAU ASCE chapter members to help load the coffin and canoe NLT the night of March 20th.


Deliverables: Canoe in trailer