Overall length of boat: 21 ft, 11 in.
N1et weight of canoe: 109
Reinforcement: pre-impregnated, post-cured,
bi-directional, graphite fiber strips
Placement: 2nd in Southeast
Regional Conference: FAMU/FSU, Tallahassee, FL
National Competition: Nevada, Reno, Reno, NV
P: Matthew Pinkston
VP: Matthew Pinkston
S: Joanna Fischer
T: Annalisa Fowler
COB: Matt Pinkston
Conference Coordinator: Joanna Fischer
Service Coordinator: Joanna Fischer
Dr. John Gilbert; Dr. Houssam Toutanji
Mr. Jackie Whitaker
Campus Liaison Officer:
Dr. Teng K. Ooi
Canoe Project Manager:
Richard Dyar and Rebecca Smith
Training and Development:
Mr. John Bentley
Mr. Ray Garner
The product of aggressive innovation.
1993, Team UAH realized that overall weight was critical. Our team
replaced the steel reinforcement, which all teams were using at that
time, by a pre-impregnated unidirectional graphite tape. The
material was donated to us by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
because it was too old for use in the Space Shuttle. Our team laid the
tape up in a female mold to fabricate a bi-directional mesh and vacuum
bagged and cured the reinforcement at elevated temperature under NASA's first Space Act. Then, we placed concrete over the
reinforcement. As a result, Team UAH scored their first national
victory and revolutionized how concrete canoes were constructed.
then, our teams have aggressively innovated. In the process, we:
1) pioneered computer generated mold production, 2) introduced the
concept of multilayered reinforcement, 3) stressed the importance of
considering tensile and flexural strength as opposed to compressive
strength, 4) demonstrated the benefit of using high stiffness ratios, 4)
introduced dynamic tuning, and 5) recently developed high-performance
concretes by capitalizing on atomic bonding and molecular
interaction. But, to our knowledge, no one in the concrete
industry has used this building material to hold pre-impregnated
reinforcement in place until the concrete sets, at which point the entire
configuration is heated to the transition temperature required to cure
The potential applications for the patent pending technology that we pioneered are enormous,
ranging from the construction of roadways and bridges on earth to lunar
structures fabricated with indigenous materials.
Our lightweight, high-performance concrete is
designed to set up quickly and attain a high early strength.
The fact that our concrete can be simply left to dry has
tremendous advantages in terms of cost and labor. Structures built with
it are less likely to crack and this is advantageous from a safety
standpoint in applications ranging from containment vessels to flight
The manner in which uncured pre-impregnated graphite
was integrated into fresh concrete provides designers with tremendous
flexibility, since configurations can be readily changed during the
early stages of concrete curing. The process does not require vacuum
bagging and lends itself to artistic creativity. It could be applied to
create lightweight cementitious products ranging from furniture to yard
hope to attract talented individuals to UAH to help us expand on more
creative ideas, some of which extend beyond Earth's boundaries. We
envision, for example, collecting space debris in Earth's orbit and
fusing it, along with cementitious and prepreg materials, into new space
For the first time in the history of this
competition, Team UAH placed concrete around
construction scenario could also be used to build lunar or Martian bases
by embedding prepreg into compounds made from indigenous materials. With
our unique "PVB cure-control," the demand for precious water
would be minimal and prepreg materials could be baked using solar energy.
It took us several months and 50
iterations to design a high-performance concrete that had adequate flexural
strength to sustain the service loads after withstanding the transition temperature of the resin.
Although these "out-of-this-world" examples may be a bit
farfetched, the technology is real and possibilities endless. One thing
is certain: We have begun a revolution in concrete canoe evolution!
After the concrete cured, the boat was removed
from the mold and baked at elevated temperature (350o F) for about
The materials for our mold and canoe cost $1,782.
We devoted 3,720 person-hours to the
project through its completion.
We competed in
Tallahassee, Florida on March 22-24, 2012 where we placed a close second
to the University of Florida. Florida represented the Southeast at
the national level where they placed fifth behind Cal Poly-SLO, Laval,
Michigan Tech and Nevada-Reno.
We're looking forward to next
year's competition in Miami.
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