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2009 - "ITZ Civilized"


Overall length of boat: 6.1 m (20.0 ft)  

Net weight of canoe: 98.4 kg (217 lb)

Concrete: 1094.6 kg/m3 (68.4 lb/ft3)

Reinforcement: Three Layers of Spatially Separated Un-impregnated

Placement: 9th at Nationals

Regional Conference: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

National Competition: University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL

     P: Todd Watts
     VP: Jorge Cacciatore
     S: Cristina Poleacovschi; Florence Brown
     T: Matthew Pinkston
     COB: Jackie Whitaker
     SBC: None

Faculty Advisors:
     Dr. Houssam Toutanji; Dr. John Gilbert

Contact Members:
     Ms. Lori Visone (Goolesby)
     Dr. Teng K. Ooi

Concrete Canoe Project Manager:
    Jackie Whitaker

Concrete Canoe Project Engineer:
   Matthew Pinkston

Concrete Canoe Team Captains:
    Jorge Cacciatore and Jennifer Bowers

    Sarah Yeldell
    Todd Watts

Professional Training and Development:
    Mr. John Bentley

Media Relations:
     Mr. Phillip Gentry

Technical Editor:
   Dr. Tom Lavin

Our competition theme:

"It's what's inside that counts."

This year, we demonstrated a strong understanding of the fundamentals of Civil Engineering with "ITZ Civilized"


The interfacial transition zone (ITZ) is the region of the cement paste around the aggregate particles. It is the weakest link in a normal concrete matrix and interactions there affect macroscopic properties, such as strength, permeability, and durability.

We relied on molecular and atomic interactions to help strengthen the ITZ (interfacial transition zone) and improve macroscopic material properties.

A landmark of Civil Engineering:

All of our innovations reflect this year’s theme: “It’s what’s inside that counts.” As far as our boat is concerned, we incorporated advanced design concepts, employed reverse engineering for mix design, and developed novel construction methods that allowed us to achieve our design goals.

We built a “natural” looking product having very few flaws and trust that our “no frills” approach (no inlays, minimal attributes, and clear sealant) was appreciated.

We billed ITZ Civilized as a landmark of Civil Engineering.

It's all in the mix:

The ITZ is characterized by the prevalence of calcium hydroxide and higher porosity.  We developed a lightweight, high-performance cementitious composite that capitalized on the interfacial bonding that took place in conjunction with our admixture and free-fiber reinforcement.  The hydrogen bonds that formed between molecules, or within different parts of a single molecule provided remarkable changes in the surface bond strength, not only between the aggregate and the matrix, but also between the fibers and the matrix.

Our approach is in stark contrast to traditional methods that have been applied to improve the aggregate/matrix bonding in the ITZ, such as reducing the size of the aggregates, using basalt and quartzite as aggregates, or replacing the cement with ultrafine additions of constituents, such as silica fume and metakaolin. These traditional methods are limited in scope, since they do not significantly alter the nature of the interaction between the aggregate and the matrix.

Going "Green"...

While building ITZ Civilized, we geared our efforts toward the current trends in industry to go “green” with a focus on sustainability in design and construction.

Our final mix is “as green as it gets,” since 100 percent of the binders (excluding cement) and all of the aggregates are recyclables.

Our concrete mix is more sustainable than most, since it relies on fly ash as a binder and includes cenospheres as the aggregate. Fly ash, a residue generated by the combustion of coal, is the largest byproduct of coal-fired power plants. Today it is recovered by electrostatic precipitators or filter bags, as opposed to being released into the atmosphere.

Cenospheres occur naturally in fly ash and are microscopic spheres of silica and alumina filled with air or gases. Typically harvested from the surfaces of ash ponds, they have a ready, high value market for use as fillers in both construction and other industries, and new applications, such as ours, are continually being developed.

About Team UAH...

This year, we were provided with a hull design by ASCE.  The observation made in our design report that “looks can be deceiving” is not only pertinent to our hull but to ourselves. By submitting to a corporate training program (see details below), we gained valuable insight into our personal makeup and developed a better appreciation for team dynamics.

Team Profiling...

During this stint, we realized that people are our most valuable resource... and consider ourselves fortunate to have worked with  John Bentley, professional training and development consultant from Power2Transform (P2T), to help overcome some of the difficulties that we encountered.

See the P2T Newsletter

Alumni Notes...

The 2008/09 stint went relatively smoothly considering that the majority of our teams members were new recruits and this memo sent to the Chapter, immediately following Nationals, by our newly elected president sums it up pretty well.

Thanks for your support...

Turner International provides major financial support to Team UAH...

Read more: Huntsville Times and UAHuntsville Press Release.



Team UAH and "ITZ Civilized" represented the Southeast
and placed 9th overall at the 2009 National Concrete Canoe Competition


Photo to left by Join this Blog... posted by Ken Faulk

UAH Contacts:

Our media contact is Phil Gentry.  Phil is a member of University Relations at UAH.  His telephone number is (256) 824-6420.

Our faculty advisors are Dr. Houssam Toutanji [(256) 824-6370] and Dr. John Gilbert [(256) 824-6029].

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