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1992 - "Fastrack"


Overall length of boat:
     18 ft 1 in.

Net weight of canoe: 
     128 lb

104 lb/ft3

     Expanded Steel Mesh

     2nd at Nationals

Regional Conference:
     U. of South Florida
     Tampa, FL

National Competition:
     Colorado State
     Fort Collins, CO

   P: John Murphy
   VP: Tom Baltrusaitis
   S: Marty Williams 
   T: Raquel Brown

Faculty Advisors:
     Dr. Michelle Crull
     Dr. John Gilbert

Contact Members:
     Mr. Ken Peters
     Mr. David Pope

     Mr. Jim Herring
     Mr. Pete Shreeves
     Mr. Jeff Lindner

Synopsis:  Improved design and construction techniques allowed us to produce the first and only clear-coated concrete canoe.  The boat was 18'1" long and weighed 128 lbs.  A relatively lightweight, but very high strength mix (104 lb/ft3; 10,860 psi), was placed over a raised steel mesh.  Our second place finish at nationals was good, but the best and worst were yet to come.

Details:  Tired of being beaten at the national level, our president, John Murphy, shown in the photograph below on the right, completely revised our strategy.  He used his industrial engineering skills to address problems involving human dynamics.  The "Team UAH" concept was born, and we met our competition on the "Fastrack."

Improved design and construction techniques allowed us to produce the first and only clear-coated concrete canoe ever to race at nationals.

 The judges marveled at our creation, and we worked hard to sell our product.

Our efforts resulted in a second place finish at nationals but we developed a strong contingent and uncovered the secrets to success.

Alumni Notes:  We won the overall Southeast Regional title, and by placing first in the concrete canoe competition, earned our invitation to nationals.

Thanks to John's leadership and Dr. Crull's help as co-faculty advisor, we had done very well.  But when Berkeley edged us out by about a foot and a half in the co-ed sprint, the Chapter buckled mentally.  We were so focused on winning that, instead of being happy that we had finished second in the nation, all that we could think about was that we were losers.  Dr. Gilbert recalls that "the team was so devastated, we almost decided not to compete again."  It just seemed that we couldn't beat Berkeley, no matter how hard we tried.

It was at that moment that Christelle Hendren (Lindner) proclaimed that she would be willing to take the helm as the Chapter president, and do her best to see to it that we would win next year.  She suggested that Dr. Gilbert advise the Chapter once again in an effort to cut red tape with the UAH administration.  Jeff Lindner (who joined the team only two months earlier, and later married Christelle) also stepped to the mark, agreeing to serve as the Chapter's first paddler/coach.  Dr. Crull and John Murphy agreed to lend their full support to the effort.  Wei Su subsequently joined the team and introduced one of the most extensive testing programs in the Chapter's history.  The mechanism needed to unseat the Berkeley dynasty had finally fallen into place.

Following our return from Colorado, the faculty's proposal for departmentalization was approved.  The Chapter would now operate under the auspices of the department of civil and environmental engineering.

Dr. Gilbert relinquished the helm as director of civil engineering and decided to remain with mechanical engineering when UAH hired his wife, Dr. Kathleen Leonard, into the new department.  A national search began for the civil chair.  But Dr. Gilbert fulfilled the commitment that he had made to Christelle, and his interest in the UAH ASCE Student Chapter never died.

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