PULLMAN, Wash. — It’s sleeker, lighter, longer and has 10 years of engineering spin on it. The Gneiss (pronounced “nice”) is this year’s concrete canoe entry for Washington State University’s 20-member civil engineering student team, and represents the metamorphic rock with the same composition as granite.
“We began with the name ‘Taken for Granite,’ but the team shortened it to Gneiss,” said this year’s Captain Del Green. “Just like the name, we’ve also streamlined the canoe to half the weight as last year’s Wazzu Woody (from 140 pounds to about 70), lengthened it to 19 feet (from 17 1/4), decreased its drag, and the paddlers have been training since fall. We’re hoping to continue WSU’s Rosebowl tradition and win the regional, so we can go to nationals this summer,” said the team leader.
American Society of Civil Engineering’s Annual Concrete Canoe Contest challenges civil engineering students in the Pacific region to craft a floatable, rowable canoe from the unlikely material of concrete. This year’s splashdown is 9 a.m. Sunday, April 5, at Greenlake in Seattle — the tenth contest in a row at which WSU defends its championship. The WSU team has won the division meet nine times prior, against other student teams from Alaska, Montana, Oregon, Idaho and Washington. Boats perform seven times during competition in three areas — float tests, distance races and sprint races. They also submit oral and written presentations Saturday at the University of Washington.
WSU’s ASCE student adviser Ken Fridley says the Gneiss’ paint job resembles the gneiss on Holland Library, in contrast to last year’s faux wood job. It also has a rose prominently painted on the bow.
Besides Green, co-captains are Kelli Butler, Andy Byrd, Andy Gold and Ralph Wagner. Other team members are Robin Adolphsen, Caroline Appel, Travis Colliander, Juleen Esvelt, Terry Forslund, Diana Hansen, Neil Kurhani, Glenn Madden, Hai Nygen, Bonnie Pack, Tina Routt, Kerri Ruth, Pat Ryan, Lisa Scarr, Larry Scholtan, Lee Steensland, Doug VanGelder and Joe Wang.
Also competing at the same ASCE regional gathering is WSU’s steel bridge team, led by Joe Galloway, and nine other civil engineering students. They have designed a steel bridge to be as light as possible, as little deflection as possible and still hold a 2,500-pound load. The crew will erect its bridge as fast as possible at the competition, hoping to complete it in about 4 minutes each, or a collective 40 minutes for the 10 teammates. This is WSU’s third year in the bridge event.

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