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1993 - "Rock-It"


Overall length of boat:
     18 ft 4 in.

Net weight of canoe: 
     79 lb


     Graphite Pre-Impregnated Tape

     1st at Nationals

Regional Conference:
     Georgia Tech
     Atlanta, GA

National Competition:
     California State
     Sacramento, CA

   P: Christelle Lindner
   VP: Nora Sassenfeld
   S: Kirk Biszick 
   T: Raquel Brown

Faculty Advisors:
     Dr. John Gilbert
     Dr. Michelle Crull

Contact Members:
  Mr. R. Hollingsworth

     Mr. Jeff Lindner


Synopsis:  Reinforced with graphite prepreg tape too old for use in the Space Shuttle, the "Rock-It" propelled UAH to its first national championship.  Constructed using a very lightweight concrete (73 lb/ft3; 3,410 psi), the 18'4" long, 79 lb boat was never beaten in any race.  This effort marked the beginning of a new era in reinforced concrete design and construction.

Details:  Our boat was constructed by placing concrete over a graphite composite matrix.  The reinforcement was vacuum bagged and cured in a large oven at NASA; it weighed less than 11 lbs.

Dressed in space suits, the presentation team [from left to right in the photo below: John Murphy, Nora Sassenfeld, Jeff Lindner, and Christelle Hendren (Lindner)] delivered one of the strongest presentations ever.  The judges highly commended the team for their unique efforts.

We also performed well in the races and, when all was said and done, UAH joined the ranks of Berkeley and Michigan as a national concrete canoe champion!

Alumni Notes:  Dr. Gilbert's negotiations with Marshall Space Flight Center Director Jack Lee to secure the materials for the canoe resulted in NASA passing the first "Space Act" in history.  This mechanism has been used many times since to facilitate interaction between that agency and universities throughout the world.

At the Southeast Regional, Jeff Lindner and Dr. Gilbert recorded the fastest time of the day while winning the faculty sprint race.  Our Chapter won the overall Regional title and advanced to nationals.

Christelle Lindner made good on her promise to lead the team to victory at nationals, and there were no words to describe how we felt after winning the competition.  For those that participated, it was the thrill of a lifetime.  We could all tell our friends, relatives, and future sons, daughters, and grandchildren that we were once national champions!

As the veteran of the team, John Murphy remained silent during the visual presentation in an effort to give the newer team members a chance to answer the slew of questions that the judges asked.  When the timer informed the judges that they had time for one last question, one of them turned to John and asked him what his role was.  The crowd roared with laughter as Murphy flexed his arms and proclaimed that he was recruited as "the muscle."  Christelle was quick to point out that John was our past president.  The judges replied, "enough said," and victory was ours!

The banquet hall echoed UAH!  UAH!  UAH! when we were declared the winner.  As the crowd cheered, Christelle nudged president-elect Charles McDowell to pick up the trophy.  A new tradition was born, and all of us followed them to the podium to pick up our trophy.  Charles filled the trophy with champagne and passed it around the room for all to share in our moment of glory.

The members of the UC Berkeley team were among the first to congratulate us on our victory.  The score on wins was finally four to one, in their favor.

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