What is Concrete Canoe?

Each year the MTU Concrete Canoe Team, along with 200 other teams around the nation, design and build a concrete canoe which they take to a regional competition. We compete against teams from University of Michigan, Michigan State, and Western Michigan University among others. We've placed in the top 10 teams in the nation with a team best 3rd place finish in 2005 and 2012.

Each year we choose a theme that resonates with the attitude of the team. The boat's name, design and display as well as the presentation all tie into the theme. The team works all year and generally puts in over 3000 hours by the time competition rolls around.

Wait... How Can Concrete Float?

2018-2019 Michigan Tech Concrete Canoe Team Racing Driftwood at Regional Competition

Traditional concrete is a mix of cement, water, sand and gravel. To make the canoe we use very small (less than 4mm in diameter) recycled hollow glass and ceramic spheres instead of sand and gravel. This results in concrete that is actually lighter than water! This is important because at competition the canoe is submerged in water and disqualified if it does not rise back to the surface.

So What Happens at Competition?

2021-2022 Michigan Tech Concrete Canoe Team Display for The Kraken at Regional Competition

There are 4 parts to competition which are judged by a panel of seasoned engineers:

o Technical Paper: The team writes a professional quality design paper detailing the engineering that went into designing our concrete mix proportions, hull design, management techniques, testing procedures, and construction methods.

o Technical Presentation: A group of presenters summarize the Technical Paper into presentation which can be no longer than 5 minutes. The challenge is to condense an entire year of work into a concise and dynamic presentation.

o Races: There are 5 races: 2 person Women's Sprint, 2 person Men's Sprint, 2 person Women's Slalom, 2 person Men's Slalom, and a 4 person Coed Sprint. Michigan Tech has traditionally excelled in the Race Category and successfully defended all 5 Regional race titles.

o Final Product: The canoe is displayed and judged for aesthetics and compliance with official rules of competition which detail dimensions and materials used in construction.