Overall length of boat:
22 ft 4 in.
Net weight of canoe:
Three Layers of Spatially Separated
1st at Nationals
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA
P: Mitch Meeks
VP: Sherene Rivzi
S: Melanie Janetka
T: Frances Pitruzello
Dr. Houssam Toutanji
Dr. John Gilbert
Mr. Tim Barnett
Mr. John Martin
and Concrete Canoe Chair:
Mr. Stuart Johnson
Mr. Phil Gentry
Ms. Kay Bradburn
UAH secures fifth national title!
Details follow (see 2001
Score Sheets, MBT
press release, ASCE
Business, and Concrete
The concrete in our new boat may be the next space
age material. (Press
Coverage by space.com,
Entry into U.S.
Beginning June 14, 2001, the world watched as twenty-four student teams representing different regions throughout
the United States and Canada faced the ultimate survival challenge
afforded by the ASCE/MBT National Concrete Canoe Competition. Many
individuals had already qualified as survivors after spending
countless days and nights readying their entries. But the true
test came at the National Competition where they had to work together
with fellow team members while eliminating other teams one by one over a
three-day period. The sole survivor walked away with the first
place trophy, a five thousand dollar scholarship, and the national
title. We're pleased to report that that team was...
A member of the largest and most competitive region in
the country, UAH has proudly represented the Southeast Region twelve
times at the national level (1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996,
1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001). Never finishing lower than
seventh place, our five national wins (1993,
1994, 1996, 1998, 2001) and three second place finishes (1992, 1997, and
1999) give testament to our survival skills. We remain the only
school to have swept the National Competition (1994).
This year, we outsmarted, outperformed, and
outpaddled our competitors with "SURVIVOR."
efforts in San Diego (click here) were led by chapter
president Mitch Meeks and team captains Stuart Johnson and Myia Redic.
The winning effort would not have been possible without the help of our
faculty advisors, Drs. Houssam Toutanji and John Gilbert, and our ASCE
Huntsville branch contact member Tim Barnett. Our new CEE
Department Chair, Dr. Vijay Gopu, attended the event along with a number
of our distinguished alumni. We would also like to thank the
students from our sister schools in the Southeast that attended and
supported us at Nationals. We were pleased that we could deliver a
top five finish for the region and trust that our win will help ease
tensions in Tallahassee next year.
is a strategically tuned, absolutely resilient structure
designed to withstand the rigors of this competition. It is
arguably the best all-around human powered boat ever built and is
radically different from all others because it is
designed to surge forward between strokes and swim.
This unique survival skill was achieved by lowering the natural
frequency of the hull so that the paddlers can drive it toward
resonance. After each paddling stroke, the elastic strain energy stored in the
deformed shape is transformed into a forward propulsive component. (Huntsville
Times News Article; Decatur
Daily News Article).
Details can be found in our first
place 2001 UAH
design report (PDF Download).
Vital statistics, as well as photographs of the boats
and displays showcased by all of this year's national contenders, are
now available (2001
Vital Statistics - Displays and Boats).
is 6.8 m (22.3 ft) long and has a mass of 34 kg
(equivalent to 76 lb), a maximum width of 81.3 cm (32 in.), and a
maximum depth of 27.9 cm (11 in.). A 757 kg/m3 (47.3
lb/ft3) concrete mix, having an average 7-day tensile
strength of 1.77 MPa (256 psi), was used to produce the hull. We
placed this water-resistant concrete by hand over three layers of a
graphite mesh and employed an ingenious construction
scenario to eliminate permanent spacers. The nominal wall
thickness is 0.74 cm (0.291 in.). Our canoe is inherently buoyant.
It is blue and white with multicolored designs.
This year's performance
evaluation suggested that our teams would do quite well in the
races and they did. Our men's team, for example, recorded the
fastest times of the day in both the slalom/distance and sprint races.
is a first generation prototype that allows civil engineers to view
structural mechanics from a completely new vantage point. The technology underlying
our unique creation has captured the attention of the high-tech aerospace companies and
governmental agencies in Huntsville who are continuously looking for
ways to make their products stronger, lighter, and more durable.
Our efforts have been featured in journals and periodicals worldwide and
we have received many requests for additional information from people in
countries ranging from South Africa and Australia to the Netherlands and
the United Kingdom.
Closer to home, we took center stage at the Aerospace Materials
Processes & Environmental Technology Conference last September, and
the Huntsville Technical Societies recently donated 300 square feet of
prime display space in the Von Braun Center (a $4,500 contribution) to showcase our findings at
the HATS/TABES Exposition held May 15th and 16th
. These events helped us to raise some of the funds that we needed
to compete in San Diego and gave us opportunities to promote our
sponsors to very large and attentive audiences.
this exposition, our faculty advisors and two of their
colleagues from NASA and the Army participated in the 2001 E2 -
TEAMS Conference where they revealed their plans to create energy
storage devices called "STARS."
The team intends to incorporate these unique concoctions into advanced propulsion and tactical weapons systems.
Dr. Gilbert, one of our faculty advisors, recently delivered a paper in Portland,
Oregon in which he described some advanced work on SURVIVOR's materials
done with Dr. Robert Vaughan of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. The citation
for this paper is:
Vaughan, R.E., Gilbert, J.A.,
"Analysis of graphite reinforced cementitious composites," Proc.
of the 2001 SEM Annual Conference and Exposition, Portland, Oregon, June
4-6, 2001, pp. 532-535 (get
a PDF Download here).
Information on "SURVIVOR":
The hull of our canoe is made by suspending three layers of a very
strong and stiff graphite fiber mesh in a relatively weak and flexible
concrete matrix. When the boat is paddled, the graphite and the
concrete flex together. But, since the concrete moves more easily,
the fibers in the graphite mesh are forced to absorb most of the load.
This unique interaction prevents the concrete from
cracking and, when properly designed, the composite section can
withstand more stress and absorb more energy than an advanced aerospace
composite made using materials such as graphite and epoxy.
Two of our chapter members and some other students on
campus recently put this claim to the test by designing, building, and
launching the first rocket made from reinforced concrete [launch
video (7913996 bytes; mpeg format; Real Player will work)]. They
used the same mix and reinforcement that we used to construct our "SURVIVOR".
The rocket design team was led by Dr. Marlow Moser of our
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. The people
involved in the project are shown in the group photo above. They are (front row L-R) Kevin Pulliam, Shane Smith, Tammy Wenslow, Brian Barnette, April Burgess,
chapter member Frances Pitruzzello, Kevin Buch, and Tim Weaver, (back row L-R) Richard Ponder, Dr. Moser, Ricky Campbell, and Daniel
Chhitt. Another chapter member, Andre Danson, provided the team
with the specifications for our mix design.
According to Ms. Wenslow, "The more we worked with
the materials, the more impressed we became." The vehicle was successfully launched on April 19,
2001. Things went so well that plans have already been made
with Alabama A&M University to build and launch a larger prototype
that will serve as a sounding rocket to take micro-gravity experiments
into space. The project is being supported by a number of
Huntsville's high-tech aerospace companies and federal agencies
including NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.
Our CEE Department was very fortunate to hire Dr. Vijay
Gopu as its new chair. His attendance and support in San Diego
will be long remembered and are greatly appreciated.
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