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Dordt College News

Dordt’s concrete canoe floats to 2nd place finish

April 29, 2013

Dordt College’s 179-pound concrete canoe, Koinonia, floated to a second place finish this year at the annual Concrete Canoe Competition held by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The regional competition was held Friday and Saturday, April 19 and 20, at the University of Minnesota-Mankato. The Concrete Canoe Competition gives students an opportunity to work on a real-world engineering project that provides opportunities for management, teamwork, design, and construction.

Since Dordt’s first showing in the competition in 2011, their standings have risen from fifth place in 2011 to third in 2012 and second in 2013.

The Greek word Koinonia means “fellowship,” and this year’s canoe is an example of student fellowship and teamwork contributing to the success of the project. “Dordt’s team emphasized the spectrum of campus involvement, ranging from the participation of art majors in the design of the canoe to the campus-wide naming of the canoe,” said Dr. Douglas De Boer, Dordt College professor of engineering. De Boer noted that the judges seemed impressed by the degree of campus involvement.

Moving up in the ranks can be attributed to several factors, including the innovative ways the team recycled and saved on water usage during the curing process, the decrease of waste and cost by reusing foam and molds from previous years, and the success of this year’s paper.

The team took first place for their paper, a score that rose from 7th and 5th place in previous years. The paper is worth 25 percent of the team’s final score.

“I think the success in the paper shows that the team this year did a very good job of building off of and learning from the work of the past two years,” said Engineering Professor Justin Vander Werff, who has served as the faculty advisor in the past two years, and this year answered questions while on sabbatical working toward his Ph.D. “It also points to excellent organization and teamwork.” This year’s advisors were engineering faculty Joel Sikkema and Danielle Wyenberg.

“Compared to other years, there were a lot of people who came to watch. We are very excited about how awareness of the canoe project has grown,” said Dordt junior Andrew Deelstra, who has competed in all three years. “We are especially looking forward to the future, when the competition will be held at Dordt in 2015. We hope that will draw an even bigger crowd.”

Seven teams competed in this year’s competition including Dordt, University of Iowa, South Dakota State University, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, University of Minnesota-Duluth, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and Minnesota State University-Mankato.

Students involved in the process
Co-Captains: Eric Walter (Johnston, Iowa) and Andrew Deelstra (Seattle, Washington).
Calculations: Eric Walter (chair), Andrew Deelstra, Mark Nyhoff (Centennial, Colorado), and Dordt Engineering Professor Justin Vander Werff.
Construction: Eric Walter (chair), Nathaniel Dyett (Grimes, Iowa), Juan Gonzalez (Asuncion, Paraguay), Jeremy Kamp (Sheldon, Iowa), and Mark Nyhoff.
Mix Design: Andrew Deelstra (chair), Amanda Donnell (Sioux City, Iowa), Emily Riihl (New Richland, Minnesota), and Adam Van Hal (Leighton, Iowa).
Paper: Danielle DeBoer (chair from Omaha, Nebraska), Kim De Boer (Sioux Center, Iowa), Andrew Deelstra, Amanda Donnell, and Eric Walter.
Administration: Amanda Donnell (chair), Erin Conley (West Liberty, Iowa), Emily Riihl, and Thaddeus Van Essendelft (Pantego, North Carolina).
Concept Design: Kim De Boer (chair), Brendan Conley (West Liberty, Iowa), and Kit Drennon (Merida, Mexico).
Finance: TJ Wells (chair from Gunter, Texas) and Jonathan De Graaf (Marshall, Minnesota).
Paddling: Emily Riihl (chair), Brendan Conley, Erin Conley, Kim De Boer, Danielle DeBoer, Andrew Deelstra, and Jordann Ludwig (Curlew, Iowa).

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