Where It All Began

The history of Concrete Canoe in the United States actually began in the 1960s, when a small number of ASCE student chapters began holding intramural Concrete Canoe races. Then, in the 1970s, both the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of California, Berkeley claim to have held the first regional competition. In the more than 30 years since, the students’ efforts to combine engineering excellence and hydrodynamic design to construct water-worthy canoes have culminated in an advanced form of concrete construction and racing technique known as the “America’s Cup of Civil Engineering.”

In 1988, ASCE expanded the competition to the national level, when Master Builders, Inc. signed-on to become the sole corporate sponsor for the event. In its first year, 18 teams of enthusiastic civil engineering students from the nation’s premier academic programs gathered in East Lansing, Mich., to test the waters of this innovative and educational event. Over the next two decades, the competition became a great success, with regional winners traveling across the country by plane, train and Ryder truck, canoes in tow, in their quest to become National Concrete Canoe Competition champions.

Going Global

As competition was developing here in the United States, the idea had also taken hold in other countries. Today, concrete canoe racing happens around the world in places like Germany, South Africa, Canada, Japan and the United Arab Emirates; and with sponsorship from ASCE and the American Concrete Institute (ACI), the 2007 National Concrete Canoe Competition winning team, University of Wisconsin - Madison, travelled to the Netherlands to represent the United States in the 30th Annual Dutch Concrete Canoe Challenge.

About the competition