Wayne State University hosts concrete canoe races for engineering students across state

Competition took place on Lake St. Clair

HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Engineering college students from across Michigan and Ohio participated in an unusual competition Friday on Lake St. Clair.

It’s a canoe race -- but here’s where it gets more interesting, the canoes are made from concrete.

“How do you float a concrete canoe?” said Bill Shuster, chair and professor for civil and environmental engineering at Wayne State University.

Getting concrete to float already sounds like all the odds are against you but Shuster says every year these students make it happen.

“This basically exercises every aspect of the civil engineering experience, and you have to understand that these are the students that are going to turn into engineers and they are going to be building, rebuilding and restoring our infrastructure,” Shuster said.

This is the first time in three years Wayne State is participating and they just so happen to be the hosts too.

“The theme of our canoe this year is Spirit of Detroit, the name of our canoe is Resurgent which comes from the Detroit motto and we hope to rise from the ashes,” Knicko Mojica, captain of Wayne State’s team and chair for the event, said.

It takes a year of hard work but it’s something every student involved can be proud of.

“The canoes can be up to 22 feet, they’re about a foot tall, two feet wide, but the special part is that they’re super thin and they’re also pretty heavy,” Mojica said.

At the end of the competition college students can say they are one step closer to making their dreams a reality.

“The whole point of concrete canoe is it gets you a mock project in the real world. So you have to have a team, be able to work with a team, you have to make a report and present that report,” Mojica said.

The winner receives bragging rights and moves on to nationals in Wisconsin in June.

On Saturday, the teams will compete in a steel bridge competition in Highland Park.

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.