Posted by: Carl Blesch | April 28, 2012

They ride the waves in a concrete canoe

Leave it to civil engineers – they take a heavy substance like concrete and make it float.

Of course, there’s a special formula … glass beads.

Substitute glass for the typical gravel and sand that you typically blend with Portland cement and you have concrete that is one-third the weight of conventional concrete, explained Zeeshan Ghanchi, a junior civil and environmental engineering student and captain of the Rutgers concrete canoe team. Cast it in the shape of a canoe and it floats.

Concrete canoe team members, behind canoe from left, Jamie Lesko, Zeeshan Ghanchi and Timothy Enny show their lightweight watercraft to Rutgers Day visitors.

“This is the lightest canoe we’ve made,” said Jamie Lesko, a senior civil and environmental engineering student and co-captain of the Rutgers concrete canoe team. Built in a School of Engineering laboratory, it has wire embedded in it that runs the length of the canoe, which contributes to the canoe’s strength.

Lesko said the team won second place in a regional competition in Denville April 21 and 22, and is hoping to receive an invitation to the national championships in Reno, Nevada, in mid-June.

There’s more to the competition than keeping the concrete boat afloat and crossing the finish line first. The team needs a compelling theme. The Rutgers engineers chose “The Jersey Devil,” named after a popular mythical Pinelands creature. Rivers in the Pine Barrens also happen to be a popular canoeing venue.


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