Published: May 17, 2024 By

For the first time ever, CU Boulder's American Society of Civil Engineers student chapter is heading to the ASCE Civil Engineering Student Championships.

The team, which built a concrete canoe and competed in additional areas, excelled at the ASCE Rocky Mountain Symposium held at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, April 18-20. CU Boulder students secured first place in Sustainable Solutions, second place in both the Technical and Non-technical paper competitions, and third place in Concrete Canoe, Surveying and Overall competitions. 

"We've grown as a team in ability and confidence, and deepened our understanding of engineering, including what goes into these competitions, how to develop a strong paper and how to develop a strong (concrete) mix — all while having fun with it too," said student leader Gabi Dunn, who recently earned a BS in civil engineering. "Not every team has as much fun as we do."

Due to their outstanding performance, the team has been invited to compete in the Sustainable Solutions competition at the ASCE Championships, which will be held at Brigham Young University from June 19-22. This competition challenges students to deepen their understanding of sustainability and learn to incorporate sustainable solutions into everyday engineering problems.  This year the Sustainable Solutions competition asked students to develop the waterfront of a fictional city in a sustainable manner.

Concrete Canoe Competition

Approximately 20 CU Boulder civil and architectural engineering students spent more than 80 hours constructing a concrete canoe, named “Spike,” after a stegosaurus character in the animation, “Land Before Time.”

Within the Concrete Canoe competition, the team took third place in the paper and presentation portions. Unfortunately the team’s canoe cracked during transport to Wyoming, and no open water races were held this year due to weather. 

Despite receiving a lower score for the prototype (canoe display) segment, Dunn said she felt proud that her teammates came together to find a solution and showcase their canoe despite the damage.

Since the early 1970s, ASCE student chapters have competed in designing, constructing, and racing concrete canoes, according to the ASCE website. The competition provides students with an opportunity to gain hands-on practical experience while testing their skills in concrete mix design and project management challenges. ASCE added a Sustainable Solutions competition to the student symposiums in 2018.

"It's exciting that our team is able to compete at nationals because it's the first time that CU Boulder has ever had this opportunity," said Associate Teaching Professor Chris Senseney, the faculty advisor for the Concrete Canoe team. "CU Boulder is known for its outstanding sustainable engineering programs. It's great to see our students succeed in this area."

Students interested in joining the ASCE Student Chapter and the 2025 team can contact

"Spike," CU Boulder's 2024 Concrete Canoe, sits in a foyer in a University of Wyoming building.

CU Boulder Concrete Canoe team holding their 2024 ASCE award certificates in front of a statue on the University of Wyoming campus.