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2005 - "Imagineer"


Overall length of boat: 6.5 m (21.33 ft)     

Net weight of canoe: 74.8 kg (165 lb)

Concrete: 1053 kg/m3 (66.0 lb/ft3)

Reinforcement: Three Layers of Spatially Separated Un-impregnated

Placement: 2nd at Regional

Regional Conference: University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL

National Competition: Clemson University, Clemson, SC

     P: Robert Dudley
     VP: Jordan Farina
     S: Andrea Presto 
     T: Benjamin Stauffer
     COB: Jonathan Thrasher
     SBC: John Corbell

Faculty Advisors:
     Dr. John Gilbert
     Dr. Houssam Toutanji

Contact Members:
     Mr. Tim Barnett
     Mr. John Martin

Concrete Canoe Chair: Jonathan Thrasher

Coach: Andrea Presto

Media Relations:
     Mr. Phil Gentry

Technical Editor:
   Ms. Kay Bradburn

   "Knowledge is limited.  Imagination circles the world." -- Albert Einstein  


Thinking "Out-of-the-Box:"

"World changing inventions are so different that they initially have to masquerade as 'better old things' rather than 'completely new things'." --  Alan Kay

"Imagineer" was a completely new thing... a Strategically Tuned Absolutely Resilient Structure (STARS) designed to morph and mimic the locomotive motion of aquatic creatures.

As our team pulled their paddles from the water, the elastic strain energy stored in the deformed shape was converted into forward momentum.

We employed adaptive reinforcement to enable the composite lay-up to withstand the high stresses and strains that occurred as the structure was driven toward a controlled resonance.  But we had to be very careful not to overstress the hull... because that could have led to disaster.

We found it beneficial to position two layers of reinforcement as close as possible to the upper and lower surfaces of the section to increase the moment of inertia. Fibers were aligned longitudinally and transversely with respect to the longitudinal centerline of the canoe so that they were positioned in the principal stress directions. We placed a third layer of reinforcement at the center of the section, with fibers oriented at plus and minus 45 to the structural axes. Fiber rotation increases the torsional stiffness and decreases the flexural stiffness of the hull resulting in lower natural frequencies that are closer together, and a better balance in the amplitudes of the fundamental modes.

Applications to Structural Morphing:

You probably thought that those flying creatures in "Lord of the Rings" were just a figment of someone's imagination...

But if you did, you need to think twice because we believe that STARS fabricated from cementitious composites will make things like wing morphing possible...

 "A wing that could change shape could improve an aircraft's ability to reach its destination quickly, then loiter there," say scientists at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.

Turning Ideas into Reality:

Team UAH collaborated with Holeman Scientific and the U.S. Army to adapt our nation's RRAPDS missile tracking system to quantify the dynamic performance of the "Imagineer."

The key components of the RRAPDS system are wireless
communications links and three-axis accelerometers.

The Army is currently developing RRAPDS for missile/munitions health monitoring.  he system features wireless communication links and MEMS sensors that were tailored to suit our needs.  See:

Marotta, S.A., Ooi, T.K., Gilbert, J.A., "Structural health monitoring of strategically tuned absolutely resilient structures (STARS)" (PDF Download; 161 KB), Proc. of the 2004 SEM X International Congress & Exposition on Experimental and Applied Mechanics, Costa Mesa, California, June 7-10, 2004, Paper No. 172, 6 pages.

Our Expectations and Accomplishments:

We had fun building public awareness of concrete technology by designing, building, and racing our concrete canoe in 2005.  But the primary purpose for fielding our entry 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.

There is a really good chance, for example, that some of the cementitious composites that we are developing will replace standard aerospace composites.  We have received Congressional funding to explore this possibility and, in addition to morphing, have high hopes of using our concrete to support telescopes in space, for rocket fuselages, to build a lunar colony -- or for low-cost emergency shelters on Earth.


As illustrated below, we turned our ideas into reality.  "Imagineer" was blue and white with gray accents.  The infinity symbol inlayed on the exterior of the hull signifies that our imagination has no limits while the Imagineer logo inlayed on the interior of the hull reflects our unique competition strategy.

Alumni Notes:

We placed second at the regional level after running into some technical difficulties...

Our team was unnerved when the judges decided to deduct 10 percent of our design paper score for leaving out a "-" in the pagination of our appendices (i.e., A1 as opposed to A-1).  It was also a bit disturbing when additional points were removed for including a memorandum in one of the appendices that was sent to us by the Committee on National Concrete Canoe Competitions (CNCCC) approving our competition strategy.  We included the memo in good faith to avoid confusion and explained that in an official response to the deduction... but to no avail.  See: 2005 NCCC Design Paper Deduction Score Card.

Needless to say we won't be making those mistakes again and appreciate your continued support!

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

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