Home Page

2004 - "ConQuest"


Overall length of boat: 6.4 m (21.1 ft)     

Net weight of canoe: 67.1 kg (148 lb)

Concrete: 1098 kg/m3 (68.5 lb/ft3)

Reinforcement: Three Layers of Spatially Separated Un-impregnated

Placement: 3rd at Nationals

Regional Conference: University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida

National Competition: Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

     P: Sarah Yeldell
     VP: Jackie Whitaker
     S: Amber Dickens 
     T: Robert Dudley
     COB: Mo Bryant
    SBC: Andrew Habel

Faculty Advisors:
     Dr. John Gilbert
     Dr. Houssam Toutanji

Contact Members:
     Mr. Tim Barnett
     Mr. John Martin

Concrete Canoe Chair: Mo Bryant

     Amber Dickens
     Todd Watts
     Sarah Yeldell

Media Relations:
     Mr. Phil Gentry

Technical Editor:
   Ms. Kay Bradburn

"Being defeated is often a temporary condition.
Giving up is what makes it permanent.
" -- Marlene vos Savant

"ConQuest" was a Strategically Tuned Absolutely Resilient Structure (STARS) that acted as an energy storage device.  As our team pulled their paddles from the water, the elastic strain energy stored in the deformed shape was converted into forward momentum.

We determined that the first mode is anti-symmetrical torsion and the second mode is flutter bending.  When these modes combine, the boat acts like a fish swimming along with its paddlers to increase their input efficiency.  Only the lower natural frequencies and their associated mode shapes in a free-free boundary condition were calculated because they adequately described the dynamic behavior of the canoe

See an animation of our swimming boat.

We swept the technical events at the 2004 Southeast Regional Concrete Canoe Competition in Tampa (UAH Exponent press release) and won the technical paper category at the 2004 National Concrete Canoe Competition held in Washington, DC.

Download the UAH 2004 NCCC Design Report (PDF; 1.83 MB)

We placed third overall in the 2004 NCCC where UW Madison successfully defended their title while seven-time Canadian champion, Universite Laval, placed second.
(Civil Words - August 2004 - PDF Download)


Regional Spreadsheet:

As part of our national delivery, we gave our oral presentation in the National Building Museum auditorium. 

This was an excellent opportunity to learn about "STARS" technology and how the newest generation of cementitious composites may be the key to building morphing aircraft.  Seating was limited in the auditorium and our presentation was telecast to the Great Hall to accommodate all who were interested.

About Our 2004 NCCC Entry:  

The physical dimensions and performance specifications for our boat are:

The project featured a multidisciplinary approach to build the world's most technologically advanced watercraft designed for paddlers using single-bladed paddles.  And it represented, by far, the most comprehensive and challenging stint in our Chapter’s history.


The Quest:  

Historically, Team UAH has been very successful in the concrete canoe competition and our teams have been responsible for some of the most dynamic and innovative performances at the national level.  Since competing in the first national competition in 1988, we have assumed the role of an aggressive innovator, constantly raising the bar while searching for the next generation's technology.

In recent years, we have demonstrated concrete's amazing versatility as a high-performance material.  In 2001, for example, a prototype rocket was built using the concrete that we designed for our concrete canoe (article).  The rocket was successfully launched [launch video (7913996 bytes; mpeg format; Real Player will work)] and plans are underway to build a larger and more advanced prototype with the concrete mixture that we designed in 2002 (article).

Samples of this space-age concrete and our graphite reinforced cementitious composite sections were displayed along with concrete fabricated in Roman times at The Royal Institute of British Architects in London.  The exhibition entitled, "Hardcore!  Concrete's rise from Utility to Luxury,” ran from March through May, 2002.  It explained concrete's rich heritage but concentrated on contemporary groundbreaking developments that are set to become a part of our everyday landscape.   We subsequently recently received a U.S. Congressional set aside (article) to explore the possibility of using reinforced cementitious materials to retrofit parts in aerospace vehicles and have made significant progress in that regard.

But during the past two years of competition, our efforts became so complex that even educated audiences had difficulty appreciating and absorbing what we did (article).  We realized that standard methods used to analyze civil engineering structures could not be applied to study our concrete canoe and developed new tools for that purpose.  We introduced a modified transform section theory to study the stress distribution in our flexible hull and employed composite laminate plate theory to design boats that would surge forward between strokes and swim.  We even built our 2002 display entirely from the same reinforced concrete used to construct our boat!  

Our arguments were sound.  But, mainly due to page and time constraints, audiences were overwhelmed.  And, as a result, our predecessors fell short of their goal, failing to reach the national level where they could pit their technology and talent against those of formidable national contingents.  But our team is more enthusiastic and smarter than that!

We reached the national level by integrating our most important discoveries into “ConQuest,” the most innovative and technologically advanced concrete canoe ever designed by any of our teams and we worked very hard preparing to take on the national contingent (article).

Our Goals:  

During our quest to become the National Concrete Canoe champion, we innovated and meticulously documented the technology underlying our efforts, educated civil engineering students, educators, practitioners, and the general public about the discoveries that we made, disseminated that information via a thorough design report, magnificent oral presentation and marvelous product, and captivated our audience with team spirit and a power-packed delivery unmatched in the history of the competition.

Our Accomplishments:

We had fun building public awareness of concrete technology by designing, building, and racing our concrete canoe and we were very pleased to have been taken seriously... because our primary purpose for building "ConQuest" was to make our audience aware of the advancements that we made so that they can better appreciate the milestones that we achieved as the next generation of civil engineers (article).

Details regarding our preparation for future competitions can be found in our Current Events section.

Back to Competition History

Return to Main