The American Society of Civil Engineers National Concrete Canoe Competition 2024; How Engineering Education Can Improve and How Design Competitions Provide Concrete Solutions

Reyes, Kenneth, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Henry, Ryan, EN-CEE, University of Virginia
Foley, Rider, EN-STS, University of Virginia

My capstone project addresses the need for innovative solutions in concrete canoe design to meet the requirements of the annul American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Concrete Canoe Competition. In particular, the client’s intent was to focus on sustainability and develop a method to produce 100 prototypes. To solve this problem our team used new sustainable construction practices, innovative concrete mix design, and improved technical analysis to push the boundaries of what the club can accomplish. Our project aims to push the boundaries of the traditional design approach and leave a strong foundation of research that future years of the club can continue to innovate in future years. Considering the human and social dimension of this technology is important to understand the greater value of the club to engineering.
The concrete canoe provides engineering students the opportunity to engage with the ASCE Concrete Canoe Competition, improve their professional portfolio, and expand their professional network. The club asks students to not only focus on technical issues but organizational and social ones as well. Through engagement students become part of a network where Actor-Network theory provides instruments to understand the complex interactions between different actors and the technology they all interact with. This approach acknowledges different perspectives and values within the network, shaping the technology and technologies roles in shaping the actors.
My research method involved analyzing a combination of interviews and questionnaire responses with both students, faculty, and professional engineers that engage with the Concrete Canoe Competition. I then used Actor Network Theory to better understand the motivations and values my participants associate with the concrete canoe. Using the insight and perspective gained from the participants in my study I synthesized a set of values and traits that can be uniquely attributed to this competition as an educational tool. The values that were most attributed to the Concrete Canoe Competition as an educational experience were interdisciplinary, technically challenging, realistic, and project focused. I then mapped these traits onto existing engineering education curriculum with a specific focus on the Capstone project as a model case for improvement. My undergraduate thesis highlight the potential of experiential learning in engineering education. Together they act as a case study on demonstrating the power of hand-on learning experiences in shaping the interdisciplinary, collaborative, and problem-solving engineers of the future.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Concrete Canoe, Engineering Education, American Society of Civil Engineers, Design Competitions

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering

Technical Advisor: Ryan Henry

STS Advisor: Rider Foley

Technical Team Members: Leon Crawford, Melody Cao, Jason Wong, Madison Cannon, Ethan Ames

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