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2012 - "EVO"


Overall length of boat: 21 ft, 11 in.

N1et weight of canoe: 109 lb

Concrete: 43.7 lb/ft3

Reinforcement:  pre-impregnated, post-cured, bi-directional, graphite fiber strips

Placement: 2nd in Southeast

Regional Conference: FAMU/FSU, Tallahassee, FL

National Competition: Nevada, Reno, Reno, NV

     P: Matthew Pinkston
     VP: Matthew Pinkston
     S: Joanna Fischer
     T: Annalisa Fowler
COB: Matt Pinkston

SEC Conference Coordinator: Joanna Fischer

Community Service Coordinator: Joanna Fischer

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

Contact Member:
     Mr. Jackie Whitaker

US Navy Campus Liaison Officer:
     Dr. Teng K. Ooi

Concrete Canoe Project Manager:
    Matt Pinkston

Concrete Canoe Project Engineer:
   Charles Boyles

Concrete Canoe Team Captains:
   Richard Dyar and Rebecca Smith

   Katie Morell

Professional Training and Development:
    Mr. John Bentley
Media Relations:
     Mr. Ray Garner

Our competition theme:

Definition:     EVO     Noun     /ˈēvō/     The product of aggressive innovation.

In 1993, Team UAH realized that overall weight was critical. Our team replaced the steel reinforcement, which all teams were using at that time, by a pre-impregnated unidirectional graphite tape.  The material was donated to us by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center because it was too old for use in the Space Shuttle. Our team laid the tape up in a female mold to fabricate a bi-directional mesh and vacuum bagged and cured the reinforcement at elevated temperature under NASA's first Space Act. Then, we placed concrete over the reinforcement.  As a result, Team UAH scored their first national victory and revolutionized how concrete canoes were constructed.

Since then, our teams have aggressively innovated.  In the process, we: 1) pioneered computer generated mold production, 2) introduced the concept of multilayered reinforcement, 3) stressed the importance of considering tensile and flexural strength as opposed to compressive strength, 4) demonstrated the benefit of using high stiffness ratios, 4) introduced dynamic tuning, and 5) recently developed high-performance concretes by capitalizing on atomic bonding and molecular interaction.  But, to our knowledge, no one in the concrete industry has used this building material to hold pre-impregnated reinforcement in place until the concrete sets, at which point the entire configuration is heated to the transition temperature required to cure the resin.


The potential applications for the patent pending technology that we pioneered are enormous, ranging from the construction of roadways and bridges on earth to lunar structures fabricated with indigenous materials.  

Our lightweight, high-performance concrete is designed to set up quickly and attain a high early strength. 


The fact that our concrete can be simply left to dry has tremendous advantages in terms of cost and labor. Structures built with it are less likely to crack and this is advantageous from a safety standpoint in applications ranging from containment vessels to flight hardware.  

The manner in which uncured pre-impregnated graphite was integrated into fresh concrete provides designers with tremendous flexibility, since configurations can be readily changed during the early stages of concrete curing. The process does not require vacuum bagging and lends itself to artistic creativity. It could be applied to create lightweight cementitious products ranging from furniture to yard ornaments.

We hope to attract talented individuals to UAH to help us expand on more creative ideas, some of which extend beyond Earth's boundaries. We envision, for example, collecting space debris in Earth's orbit and fusing it, along with cementitious and prepreg materials, into new space structures.

For the first time in the history of this competition, Team UAH placed concrete around pre-impregnated graphite the concrete cured.

Our construction scenario could also be used to build lunar or Martian bases by embedding prepreg into compounds made from indigenous materials. With our unique "PVB cure-control," the demand for precious water would be minimal and prepreg materials could be baked using solar energy.

 It took us several months and 50 iterations to design a high-performance concrete that had adequate flexural strength to sustain the service loads after withstanding the transition temperature of the resin.

Although these "out-of-this-world" examples may be a bit farfetched, the technology is real and possibilities endless. One thing is certain: We have begun a revolution in concrete canoe evolution!

After the concrete cured, the boat was removed from the mold and baked at elevated temperature (350o F) for about three hours.

The materials for our mold and canoe cost $1,782.

 We devoted 3,720 person-hours to the project through its completion.

We competed in Tallahassee, Florida on March 22-24, 2012 where we placed a close second to the University of Florida.  Florida represented the Southeast at the national level where they placed fifth behind Cal Poly-SLO, Laval, Michigan Tech and Nevada-Reno.

We're looking forward to next year's competition in Miami.

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