Tip of the Iceberg: Cal Poly’s Concrete Canoe Team Hopes to Chill the Competition, Reclaim Championship

This year's concrete canoe is named Borealis and features an Arctic theme.

With an Arctic theme and an Earth-friendly message, Cal Poly’s concrete canoe team hopes to reclaim its championship status during this year’s American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) National Concrete Canoe Competition.

This year’s canoe, named Borealis, will feature a snowy white exterior and an ocean blue interior, said project manager Jerry Ding. Along the bottom, there will be 54 raised icebergs, some with polar bear paw prints, and Arctic animals, such as whales and a seal. The two bulkheads, meanwhile, will be dark violet with light green streaks that resemble the northern lights.

“We understand that only the fittest and strongest species are able to survive the extreme Arctic climate,” Ding said. “They’ve evolved over millions of years to settle in the polar region. We want to have the same mentality and keep improving, evolving, and pushing ourselves to the limits to achieve further success in the competition.”

The theme also encourages the team to promote project sustainability to battle climate change, Ding said.

“We made an effort to reduce, reuse, and recycle materials with our project this year, and we want to inspire others to do the same,” Ding said.


The team recently began sanding their canoe, which the team it will take to CSU Fullerton April 1-4 for this year’s regional competition.

While Cal Poly finished second in the nation last year, that was actually a letdown for a team that had won the previous two championships and three others from 2010-2012.

The competition features several categories, including final product, oral presentation, a technical report and five canoe races.

“We learned that although our team has been one of the strongest title contenders, other teams are bettering themselves quickly, especially in the oral presentation and design paper categories,” Ding said. “If we want to make a comeback, we need to improve in all four areas because the overall score is what ultimately matters.”

A regional win would lead to nationals at the University of Wisconsin Madison, June 13-15.

The team plans to display the canoe on the Cal Poly campus later in June.

The Cal Poly College of Engineering understands there has been an enormous amount of turmoil and transition due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). As we continue offering support to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, we also continue providing critical updates as well as college highlights. Ours is a college full of creative and bright engineers and staff. For more information on COVID-19 visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For more information on how Cal Poly is responding to COVID-19, visit the Cal Poly Coronavirus website Coronavirus website.

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