Shasank Natakam, Katie Sinn, and Valdemar Kochanowski by concrete canoe.Engineering students Shasank Natakam, Katie Sinn, and Valdemar Kochanowski pose with their entry in the 2024 concrete canoe competition.

Engineering students looking to float their boat in national competition

The UWindsor team in the Canadian National Concrete Canoe Competition has high hopes for its entry, in Quebec this week to be evaluated on academic, technical, and sports aspects.

“This year, we changed the design to a more traditional canoe shape and added some colour, and it looks a lot smoother,” says captain Katie Sinn, a third-year student of civil engineering. “It is lighter, and we decreased the weight by over 50 per cent from last year’s design.”

The competition, sponsored by the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, challenges students from across the country to test their design prowess, shaping the dense material into a fully functional canoe ready to race in the water.

More than 200 students from 16 Canadian universities are at host Université Laval through Saturday, including six representing Windsor engineering from a variety of specialties. Co-captain Valdemar Kochanowski is a fourth-year civil engineering major in charge of the craft’s geometric design taking on the project as part of his capstone requirement.

Third-year mechanical engineering major Shasank Natakam is the structural and outreach lead. He says the team’s diversity is a strength.

“The team is comprised of a fusion of multiple disciplines, as that allows the team to have a large range,” he says. “New this year is that we were able to do a lot of simulations to see what is possible and what areas of the canoe need help.”

Civil engineering professor Niel Van Engelen, their faculty advisor, notes this is the second straight year that the University is participating.

“They’ve learnt a lot from last year and have made major strides forward,” says Dr. Van Engelen. “I’m very excited for the competition and proud of what the team has accomplished so far.”

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