/ Awards / California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Named National ASCE Concrete Canoe Winner for Record Seventh Time

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Named National ASCE Concrete Canoe Winner for Record Seventh Time

Parul Dubey on June 14, 2023 - in Awards, News

The Georgia Institute of Technology Wins Sustainable Solutions Competition and Purdue University Northwest Wins Surveying Competition


Reston, VA. – A team of students from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly SLO) finished ahead of 19 other teams from across the country and around the world to win the 36th annual Concrete Canoe competition, which took place at the annual American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Civil Engineering Student Championships. The school’s team of engineering students and their canoe, Oceana, came out on top to win “America’s Cup of Civil Engineering” for the second consecutive year after three days of competitions at University of Wisconsin – Platteville. This is an ASCE-record seventh Concrete Canoe championship for the Cal Poly SLO team. The team also won the competition in 2022, 2018, 2017, 2012, 2011, and 2010.


This year’s competition was the culmination of 20 regional events across the country that took place this spring and included three Society-wide competitions to showcase a wide array of civil engineering disciplines: the ASCE Concrete Canoe Competition, the ASCE Utility Engineering and Surveying Institute Surveying Competition and the Sustainable Solutions Competition – Envisioning a New Downtown.


For ASCE’s flagship competition, Concrete Canoe, teams are assessed in four areas of competition: a paper detailing the design and construction of the canoe, oral presentations about the planning and creation, the final product and canoe races. This year’s canoes were put to the test on Monday in Blackhawk Lake in Highland, Wisconsin during a day-long series of races including men’s and women’s slalom races, men’s and women’s sprint races, and a co-ed sprint race.


“Congratulations to all of the winners and participants in this year’s Civil Engineering Student Championships,” said Maria Lehman, P.E., ASCE President. “These events bring students together and form bonds that can be carried with them throughout their careers. The civil engineering workforce is a passionate group that wants to make the world a better place, and these competitions highlight just how instinctive, talented, and dedicated these aspiring engineers are to their crafts.”


While a canoe made out of concrete is not expected to float, finding the solution to this problem represents the core of engineering challenges and problem solving. Cal Poly SLO’s Oceana finished in the top five of every race while also winning the technical proposal and technical presentation categories.


“This year we had a number of setbacks, so it’s been so amazing to be able to come back and compete at the same level that we did last year,” said Heather Migdal, Cal Poly SLO project manager.


“Last year was a whirlwind that I can’t quite describe. And coming back with the pressure to defend the championship, and just being able to put it back up there with so many hours, so much energy, it makes it all worth it.”


Cal Poly SLO’s canoe design and the sustainable materials utilized during the construction process were inspired by the kelp forests near San Luis Obispo, which are declining and in need of protection.


This year’s winner of the Sustainable Solutions competition – “Envisioning a New Downtown” – is the Georgia Institute of Technology, who finished ahead of 15 other universities to claim the top prize. The Sustainable Solutions competition challenges students to develop a stronger understanding of sustainability and learn to incorporate sustainable solutions into everyday problems that engineers incur, such as homelessness. In this year’s competition, the fictional “City of ASCE” wants to revitalize one downtown block of Engineer Street. Students were tasked with turning the underutilized area into a gathering place for the community and reimagine the surrounding spaces to create a cohesive and walkable corridor.


This year’s winner of the ASCE/UESI Surveying Competition is Purdue University Northwest. The surveying competition was designed in recognition of the importance of basic surveying principles to all civil engineering projects. For the competition, students are required to use standard field and office equipment and procedures to solve common problems encountered in the industry and demonstrate a clear understanding of and ability to apply basic surveying principles on the job site and during the design process. The competition also includes a topographic mapping project and presentation.


2023 Rankings


Concrete Canoe Overall
1. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

2. Youngstown State University

3. Université Laval

4. University of Florida

5. Western Kentucky University


Sustainable Solutions – Tiny House Challenge

1. Georgia Institute of Technology

2. Louisiana Tech University

3. University of California, Los Angeles



1. Purdue University Northwest

2. Utah State University

3. Oregon State University


ASCE and University of Wisconsin – Platteville organized this year’s ASCE Civil Engineering Student Championships with generous support from the ASCE Foundation, National Pre-Cast Concrete Association (NCPA), Bluebeam and 3M.

For more information on the ASCE Civil Engineering Student Championships, including a list of all the winners, visit https://www.asce.org/communities/student-members/conferences/asce-civil-engineering-student-championships. Additional photos of this past weekend’s events and all teams are also available by emailing [email protected].


ASCE is dedicated to inspiring students to pursue a future in civil engineering. The field offers rewarding careers and the opportunity to shape communities across the nation, but industry leaders are struggling to find the number of qualified civil engineers needed to complete the transformational projects made possible by an influx of federal funding. ASCE’s upcoming feature film, Cities of the Future, is meant to excite future civil engineers by showcasing the roles engineers will have in shaping future communities, based on real engineering data and principles. A preview screening of the film will be shown at ASCE’s 2023 Convention in Chicago, IL this October. The innovative construction techniques demonstrated by ASCE student members throughout the ASCE Civil Engineering Student Championships is a testament to the ingenuity that is possible from the future civil engineering workforce.



Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 150,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society. ASCE works to raise awareness of the need to maintain and modernize the nation’s infrastructure using sustainable and resilient practices, advocates for increasing and optimizing investment in infrastructure, and improve engineering knowledge and competency. For more information, visit www.asce.org or www.infrastructurereportcard.org and follow us on Twitter, @ASCETweets and @ASCEGovRel.

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