Overall length of boat: 6.1 m (20.0 ft)
Net weight of canoe:
kg (250 lb)
kg/m3 (62.4 lb/ft3)
Reinforcement: Two Layers of
Spatially Separated Un-impregnated
Placement: 4th at Regional Conference
Regional Conference: Tennessee Tech, Cookeville, TN
National Competition: University of Evansville,
P: Stephen Phillips
VP: Seth Martin
S: Joanna Fischer
T: Jessica Phillips
COB: Stephen Phillips
SBC: Gilberto Martinez
Conference Coordinator: Jessica Phillips
Service Coordinator: Joanna Fischer
Dr. Houssam Toutanji; Dr. John Gilbert
Mr. Jackie Whitaker
Dr. Teng K. Ooi
Campus Liaison Officer:
Dr. Teng K. Ooi
Canoe Project Manager:
Stephen Phillips, Katie Morell
Training and Development:
Mr. John Bentley
Mr. Ray Garner
So far. Team UAH has proudly represented the Southeast Conference sixteen
times at the national level. We have 5 national titles to our credit but
our last victory was in 2001.
Some viewed our performances over the past decade as an epic journey akin to
that described by Homer in his “Odyssey" where Odysseus
took ten years to reach Ithaca after winning the Trojan War.
And, in his absence, many assumed that he and his followers had
died. Following this analogy, we decided to christen our boat ODYSSEY
hoping that it would take us
home to the winner’s circle, so that everyone would know that we were alive and well.
We expanded on a long range plan developed to
transition experience, knowledge, and leadership from our graduate
students, alumni, and faculty to our undergraduate contingent. This
strengthened our team’s position in last year’s national
competition, and instilled in us the confidence, fortitude,
persistence, patience, and courage needed to conquer the regional and national
contingents by taking the epic journey allegorically depicted on our
We fielded "Odyssey" at the Southeast Conference Concrete
Canoe Competition in Cookeville.
The designs were relatively simple but they painted the picture that
we wanted to portray..
just like in Homer's Odyssey, things didn't go exactly as
planned. We were shocked and disappointed when our entry hovered
just below the surface in the float test late on Friday afternoon, forcing us to take a 25 point
deduction in the final product.
The boat was built to spec but things didn't look so good when
it hovered just below the surface in the float tank.
In making our flotation
calculations, we forgot to add the extra weight that resulted by
staining and sealing the boat with compounds that were slightly heavier
than water. In addition, we had to delay placement by one week due
to inclement weather and ended up sealing the boat the night before we
left... giving us no time to do a float test before we left for
Cookeville. You can bet your bottom dollar that we'll never make
these mistakes again!
Stephen Phillips, our chapter president and co-captain,
drove back to Huntsville to batch up some concrete and our team worked all night to
bring the boat into spec for the races so that we could give our competitors a run
for their money..
Odyssey outfitted with gunwale protection and retrofitted flotation.
Our persistence was tested late Friday night when our
stern paddler and co-captain, Katie Morell, went to the hospital
suffering from bronchitis. We made provisions to replace her in
the boat but she decided to race. After winning the women's
endurance race with her team, she paddled in four of the sprint
Our pit crew loaded the team into the boat using a paddler lift bar.
But, true to the trials and tribulations encountered by
Odysseus in the Odyssey, our tumultuous journey was far from over. On Saturday, we
received an additional 15 point deduction for allegedly violating the
requirement that the total weight of the aggregate(s) had to exceed 25%
of the mixture weight. One of our faculty advisors (Dr. Gilbert)
suggested that we appeal this deduction by noting that we received a
document different from the one contained in the 2011 ASCE NCCC Rules
and Regulations while asking our judges the simple but pertinent
question: "Is it fair to add deductions to the Final Product
Deduction Score Card contained in the 2011 ASCE NCCC Rules and
Regulations once the competition has begun, especially considering that
these deductions were not addressed anywhere in the FAQ?"
Rather than debating the legitimacy of the CNCC
distributing an Errata on the day that on-site registration took place
while giving the impression that we may have intentionally violated the
rules and expected to get away with it,
we decided to appeal this deduction from a technical standpoint based on
what we were told to do by ASCE (see appeal
After our request was denied, it was virtually impossible for us to overcome the 40
point deficit... and we had to give way
to Florida Tech, Florida, and Vanderbilt.
Ironically, had we been successful in our appeal, we
would have placed 9th in the product thereby receiving an additional 5
points in our overall score... making absolutely no difference
whatsoever in our final placement.
On the other hand, had we not received any point
deductions on our product, we would have finished second in this
category. If things went as they did, our total score would have
been 86.9 compared to FIT's 86.8... giving us a win by the narrowest
margin possible (0.1 points)... without placing first in any of the four
major scoring categories!
So our mistake regarding flotation was costly and the
denial of our appeal could have been pivotal. I guess that's why,
after our request to rescind this deduction was denied, Dr. Gilbert
remarked to the head judge that he felt that Team UAH had been placed in
a no win situation. He asked, "Is it fair when after
receiving classification of a material from the CNCCC, following bolded
and italicized instructions given by the American Society of Civil
Engineers in the rules for handling the material 'for the purpose of
this competition,' that a team be told that they should not have
followed those guidelines?" To their credit, the judges said
that they would reconsider, but ultimately decided to stick with their
decision; and, Dr. Gilbert seemed to be satisfied with that.
On the bright side, our team faced these and many other obstacles during this stint; and,
since we fought valiantly to overcome them, we feel that we emerged from Cookeville as
We were within dimensional specifications.
As it was, we finished third in the design paper,
second in the presentation, and third in overall race points in one of
the largest and most competitive conferences in the nation.
Our tabletop display looked pretty sharp.
The bid for our sixth national title will just have to
wait until next year. Meanwhile, we'll be rooting for FIT to place
top five at nationals.
The cross section showed how we built our boat.
Our hats go off to Tennessee Tech for doing an excellent
job hosting the Southeast Conference especially in the concrete canoe
competition where we faced inclement weather throughout the
competition. We would also like to thank the conference judges and
the CNCCC for their consideration of our appeal. Although we do
not agree with the rationale given for their decision regarding our
aggregate proportioning (we have requested a copy of this and will post
it here when we get it), we thought that that we were treated fairly and
very much appreciated the time and effort spent by everyone
involved. We would also like to recognize Florida for a job well
done and make Vanderbilt aware of the fact that we know just how well
they did. We're looking forward to seeing all of you guys next
year at the Southeast Conference in Tallahassee.
Meanwhile, may the best team win in Evansville!
our school and Team UAH:
The University of Alabama in
Huntsville (UAH) was established fifty years ago as a research institute
to support the growing aerospace science and missile fields. Since then,
we have become the anchor tenant in the second largest research park in
the United States. We
have a current enrollment of 7,614 with 190 students enrolled in Civil
and Environmental Engineering.
A large percentage of Team UAH is drawn from other engineering
disciplines, particularly mechanical and aerospace. Our unorthodox, multi-disciplinary approach to
the Concrete Canoe Competition has helped to make our Chapter successful
in competing in the ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition.
Our media contact is Ray
Garner. Ray is a member of University Relations at UAH.
His telephone number is (256) 824-6397.
Our faculty advisors are Dr.
Houssam Toutanji [(256) 824-6370] and Dr.
John Gilbert [(256) 824-6029].
contacts for 2011:
Phillips (337) 852-1756; John Gilbert
(256) 824-6029; Ray Garner
If you haven't become actively involved with Team
UAH yet, we need your support. So, please consider
becoming a sponsor.
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