Local News

N.C. State Students Hit The Water With Concrete Canoe

Posted May 8, 2000

— SomeN.C. Statestudents are making waves with their concrete canoe. It is a research project that has earned them a spot in the America's Cup for civil engineers.

By mixing latex with microscopic glass and plastic, they have formulated a concrete canoe that is lighter than water. They are heading to a national competition next month in Colorado to race their unusual boat.

"We're trying to build a tradition here at State of improving every year," says team captain Jodie Nixon. "Maybe some time down the road, we can win the national competition."

At the regional competition, N.C. State students placed second to qualify for nationals. Concrete competitors are judged 30 percent on who paddles the fastest and 70 percent on the best research, design and presentation.

The students are trying to raise $16,000 for building materials. The money is tax deductible. Anyone who would like to help can call919-515-6454for more information. These NC State civil engineering students have built a racing boat that looks normal enough, but it defies traditional thinking. It is made of concrete.

"I have gotten looks in the past.people who have told me you're not doing that. There's no way you can make a concrete canoe float."

Water weighs 62 pounds per cubic foot. Regular concrete weighs about 140 pounds per cubic foot which means if you drop it in water, it does not float.

But, this concrete concoction weighs only 52 pounds per cubic foot, so yes it floats. The key ingredientslatex to help it bindand microscopic beads of glassfiner than baby powder. The peanut buttery mixture may not be suitable for a parking deck, but its plenty strong enough for a canoe. Instead of steel, the lightweight concrete is reinforced with a plastic mesh. "Its not neccessarily a physical factor as much as it is an intellectual factor."

Win or lose, these students are building a solid foundation for the future.

"We've learned a lot about concrete."

"We're trying to build a tradition here at state of improving every yearand maybe some time down the road we can win the national competition."

In addition to making concrete float, the State students also face a big challenge in finding the money to compete at the nationals in Colorado. -->


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