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1988 - "Minnow"


Overall length of boat:
     14 ft 10 in.

Net weight of canoe: 
     197 lb

125 lb/ft3

     Steel Wire Mesh

     5th at Nationals

Regional Conference:
 Vanderbilt University
 Nashville, TN

National Competition:
     Michigan State
     East Lansing, MI

   P: Franklyn Davies
   VP: Spencer Hudson
   S/T: John Moore

Faculty Advisors:
     Dr. Jim Uber
     Dr. John Gilbert
     Dr. Bill Schonberg

Contact Member:
     Mr. David Pope

Synopsis:  The Minnow featured the first full-scale graphic design ever placed on a concrete canoe in the Southeast.  We won the overall regional title that year and remain the only student club to ever do so.  Our boat was 14'10" long and weighed 197 lbs; concrete (125 lb/ft3; 3,500 psi) was placed over a steel wire mesh.  We placed fifth at the first national competition.

Details:  Finite element analysis and computer aided design were used to identify critical stress areas.  Additional steel reinforcement was used to strengthen these areas.

We kept the canoe wrapped in black plastic until race day.  Supported by tires, it looked so huge that the other teams believed a rumor that the boat weighed 500 pounds.

We surprised everyone by winning the overall regional as a student club; the only club to ever do so in the history of the Southeast competition.  We attended the first national concrete canoe competition as the Southeast representative and finished fifth overall.  There has never been a student club to ever finish that well at the national level.

Alumni Notes:  We were very lucky and surprised to win the overall Regional title that year.  The points were distributed among the major competitors and Jeff Lindner's win in the technical paper competition coupled with that in the concrete canoe competition was just enough to secure victory.  Drs. Gilbert and Uber paddled to a first place finish in the faculty race, marking the first time that we won that event.

We won the Regional title by the smallest margin in history.  It was surprising that we were able to compete at all, considering how many party animals we had on the team back then.  Dr. Gilbert recalls a conversation with Dr. Uber after spending a night on the town visiting the local hot spots in which he duly noted that, "we probably should have covered up the logo on the university van last night."    The picture above shows some of our organization's most charismatic members; from left to right: Dr. John Gilbert, Bob Easter, Ed Palmer, Donya Harbin (Jeffries), Franklyn Davies (president), and Dr. Jim Uber.  Bob and Donya went on to become chapter presidents, and Ed was our most successful procurement person.

The nationals came as a shock, especially to Dr. Gilbert who groaned as we were beaten technologically, athletically, and psychologically.  He still reminisces about seeing the entry from Berkeley propped up on saw horses, rising above the other competitors' canoes, just waiting for the judges to proclaim the UCB Chapter as the winner.  Berkeley had the look and the technical delivery of a champion.  They dominated the competition in the water.

During the final race, Dr. Gilbert vowed that, as long as it took, UAH would eventually win nationals more times than UCB.  Berkeley made that difficult by winning three mores times before UAH started to even the score.

Although Berkeley's domination at the national level was disconcerting, our win at the Southeast Regional and participation at nationals lit a fire back home.  We were able to hire Dr. James Uber at the beginning of the year.  Affectionately referred to as "Little Doc," he spent countless time and effort supporting the club's activities.  

We now had the ammunition that it took to move toward accreditation and Dr. Gilbert led the charge.  Together with Drs. Schonberg and Uber, the paperwork was prepared.

The ABET team visit went very well and the program received one of the best, if not the best, recommendations in the college.  The team was also impressed by our student contingent.  Things were looking up for our organization, and our membership began to sore!

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