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1994 - "Defender"


Overall length of boat:
     19 ft 6 in.

Net weight of canoe: 
     80 lb


     Graphite Pre-Impregnated Tape

     1st at Nationals

Regional Conference:
     U. of Alabama
     Tuscaloosa, AL

National Competition:
     U. of New Orleans
     New Orleans, LA

  P: Charles McDowell
  VP: Clint Howard
  S: Sharon Strickland 
   T: Jonathan Crosby

Faculty Advisor:
     Dr. John Gilbert
     Dr. Michelle Crull

Contact Members:
  Mr. R. Hollingsworth
  Mr. Tim Barnett

     Mr. Jeff Lindner

Synopsis:  With its unibody graphite frame, sleek lines, and fast hull speed, "Defender" proved unstoppable.  The 19'6" boat weighed 80 lbs, and was produced using a concrete having a specific weight of 65 lb/ft3 and a compressive strength of 2,490 psi.  By winning every event, UAH became the first and only school to sweep the national concrete competition.

Details:  Bound and determined to keep our national title, we forwarded "Defender."

We improved our construction techniques, built a better female mold, and used graphite strips to construct a unibody frame.  Materials were procured through a NASA space act.

Subtitled "Men in Tights," our presentation dazzled the judges.  The poster board was in the shape of a castle, and the boat featured a huge sword down the middle.

Alumni Notes:  By now, the Southeast regional contingent was growing restless at being locked out of nationals by UAH; and, both the University of Florida and our Chapter were pressing ASCE to modify the national rules.  Our cries were later heard, resulting in the provision for a second place competitor to attend nationals if one of the schools placing in the top five won their region again.  This rule was not yet in place, however, and the regional competition was laden with protests against us.  Fortunately, the judges ruled in our favor on all counts.  The faculty team was so driven to win following the onslaught of protests that they absolutely demolished their competition in the faculty sprint.  We also won all of the races and swept the Regional competition.

It was a very different atmosphere at nationals where everything went smoothly, especially on the beach under the direction of our first pit crew boss, Jonathan Crosby.  But, judging by the controversy that occurred the following year, it was a perfect example of "the calm before the storm."

The only glitch occurred when we had the dress rehearsal for the visual presentation.  When the men came out of the dressing room, they looked spectacular in their tights, but the women just couldn't stop laughing.  The guys were so embarrassed that they nearly backed out right there and then.

It was the first time that a faculty race was held at the national level; and, Dr. Gilbert and teammate Dan Livingston won.  During the race, Dr. Gilbert recalls Dan turning to him, politely pointing out that they were going toward the wrong buoy.  They corrected the problem but had to contend with an announcement made over the public address system that the UAH faculty team's time was beaten by their co-ed team.  Dr. Gilbert responded, "Considering that our time is the third best of the day, it's not too bad." 

Although we won all of the races, there were so many good teams that year that, sitting at the banquet, we never guessed that we won the competition, let alone swept all of the events.  But as the rain poured down in New Orleans, the awards just kept coming.  Once again, victory was ours.  True to the tradition established the year before, our president, Charles McDowell, nudged president-elect Leslie Roberts (Livingston) forwarded to claim our trophy.  We filled it with champagne and partied all through the night.

Upon returning to UAH, the Chapter was cited by our Student Government Association as the "Most Outstanding Group on Campus."  Faculty advisors, Drs. Gilbert and Crull were given Outstanding Leadership Awards by the president of the university, and Alabama's governor passed a resolution citing us for Outstanding Performance.  According to the ASCE media coverage report, "totals for print, television and radio coverage reached 129 publications/stations with an estimated 46.8 million readers/audience."

Dr. Schonberg was appointed as CEE Chair, and Drs. Crull and Leonard were elected to President and Vice-President of the ASCE Huntsville Branch.  Civil Engineering at UAH was on the move.

The score for winning nationals now stood:  Berkeley four, UAH two.

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