Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

December 31, 2012

Discovering Technology: Results are concrete

Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — Some people would consider the phrase “concrete canoe” an oxymoron, because if a canoe is made of concrete then it surely must not float.

But they would be wrong. Concrete canoes, the really well-built ones, do float.

Western Kentucky University civil engineering students build two concrete canoes each year, one of which they race in regional and national competitions. The other they use for practice.

Matthew A. Dettman, PE, a professor at WKU, spoke about his students’ concrete canoe project Saturday during the grand opening of Discover Tech, an engineering exhibit, at the Mary Wood Weldon Memorial Library.

The canoe Dettman’s students make is made of a light-weight concrete.

“We make our concrete light so [the canoe] is faster,” Dettman said.  

The concrete is poured around a Styrofoam form. The hull of the boat is thin — about 3/8 of an inch thick. It takes about 24 hours for the students to pour the canoe.  

About 30 teams from across the country make it to the national competition each year.

“WKU has finished in the top 10 in the nation seven times,” Dettman said.

In 2002, WKU’s concrete canoe placed third in the nation. The university has competed on the national level with its concrete canoe for 13 years running.

“We’re pretty proud of what our students have done,” Dettman said.

For the full story, see the print or e-edition of Monday's Glasgow Daily Times.