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Dordt students float to third-place victory in concrete canoe

May 5, 2012

A 200-pound concrete canoe created by Dordt College engineering students floated to a third-place victory at the annual regional Concrete Canoe Competition held by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) at the University of Wisconsin in Platteville, Wisconsin.

The competition was divided into four parts, the design paper, an oral presentation, the display setup, and the racing portion. The canoe, named The Kernel, brought the team to a third-place finish in the women’s endurance and men’s sprint competitions, and a first-place finish for the second year in a row in the oral presentation category.

“This year’s competition made us realize the importance of paddling practice. Although we did decently in some races, it was tricky to get the steering down,” wrote co-captains Benjamin Hofland and Anna Jefferson. “This is partly due to the fact that we had only one paddling practice the weekend before the competition, but also because the bow of the canoe was not symmetrical which caused difficulties in steering. So next year we plan to get out on the water more often to practice paddling, and we plan to change or enhance the hull design.”

The Kernel takes its name from the Sioux Center, Iowa, rich tradition and history of farming. “The circles and stripes along the side of the canoe were added to suggest the presence of kernels, as in an ear of corn,” they added.

Last year was the first time a Dordt team participated in the competition, and they placed fifth overall. This year was their first opportunity to race, though, because last year’s weather was judged too dangerous for racing.

“This project has improved significantly since our first year, as seen by The Kernel’s weight of 202.5 pounds—about half the weight of last year’s canoe, The Cannon,” said Hofland and Jefferson.

Nineteen students and faculty from disciplines ranging from engineering to education were involved in making The Kernel. Faculty advisors were Professors Justin Vander Werff and Danielle Wyenberg. Students included Erin Conley (West Liberty, Iowa), Danielle De Boer (Omaha, Nebraska), Kim De Boer (Sioux Center, Iowa), Andrew Deelstra (Seattle, Washington), Heidi de Waal (Abbotsford, British Columbia), Amanda Donnell (Sioux City, Iowa), Benjamin Hofland (Marne, Michigan), Anna Jefferson (Eden Prairie, Minnesota), Jordann Ludwig (Curlew, Iowa), Sam McCreery (Loveland, Colorado), Aric Moeller (Leland, Iowa), Mark Nyhoff (Centennial, Colorado), Emily Riihl (New Richland, Minnesota), Thaddeus Van Essendelft (Pantego, North Carolina), Reuben Van Gaalen (Sioux Center, Iowa), Adam Van Hal (Leighton, Iowa), Mark Van Weelden (Brookfield, Wisconsin), Eric Walter (Johnston, Iowa), and TJ Wells (Arvada, Colorado).

The other schools in the competition were University of Wisconsin-Platteville (first place), Iowa State University (second place), Minnesota State-Mankato, North Dakota State University, University of Minnesota, University of Iowa, and South Dakota State University.

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