Concrete Canoe 2021

Meet the Team

Colorado School of Mines
Golden, Colorado 

Celeste Carmignani

Project Manager, Co Team Captain
B.S Civil Engineering, May 2021
Former ASCE Chapter President
Current ASCE Chapter Historian

Oversees subsystem leads, manages project timeline and budget, is the primary contactact for the client as well a s the primary submittal manager.


Isabel Whitehead

Deliverables and Aesthetics, Co Team Captain
B.S. Civil Engineering, May 2021
Former ASCE Chapter Vice President
Current ASCE Chapter Webmaster

Composes, edits  and compiles the final technical papers, final presentation and other important team documents. Also responsible for submitting digital deliverables correctly and on time.

April Jergensen

Hull Design
B.S. Civil Engineering, December 2021

Designs the canoe’s hull shape and performs a freeboard analysis and seaworthy test on the canoe. Works in conjunction with the Construction Lead for constructability.

Brittany Hawk

Quality Control, Assurance and Safety
B.S. Civil Engineering, May 2021

Ensures safety practices are adhered to during lab testing and construction activities. Also responsible for ensuring the project remains within the boundaries outlined in the RFP and any RFI’s posted on the ASCE Facebook page.

Krys Pajka

Construction & Structural Detailing
B.S. Civil Engineering, May 2021

Manages form development, construction methods, material aquisition, performs structural analysis for all load cases, and developes reinforcement schematic. Works in conjunction with the Hull Design Lead for constructability.

Kathryn Bullard

Mix Design
B.S. Civil Engineering, May 2021

Develops the concrete mix design to meet strength and weight goals. Leads concrete materail testing as part of the Enhanced Focus Areas.

Delaney Brown

Communications & Finance
B.S. Civil Engineering, May 2021
Former ASCE Chapter President

Performs outreach with clients and donors, manages and aquires funding, manages spending and is the primary lead for all financial decisions.

Technical Advisors

Lori Tunstall, PhD
Ahmedreza Hedayat, PhD
Andres Guerra, PhD, PE
Jeffrey Holley, PE, F.ASCE
Michael Yost, PE
Dillon Davisson, PE (Kiewit)
Todd Genovese, PE (Martin Marietta)

Student Volunteers

Noble Thachiyath, Junior
Jonathon Cattan, Sophomore
Cody Goebel, Junior
Cody Offchis, Senior
Megan Neil, Junior
Riley Goetz, Junior
Olivia Thero, Freshman

Project Overview

Long ago, the power and force dragons exhibited brought fear to the villagers below its cave. Its vibrant colors, stark red eyes and shiny scales exemplify the beautiful beast through fear and awe. But this dragon is not like most dragons told in folklore. The initial sighting might make you tremble inside, but the dragon shall not be feared as so. This dragon brings balance to the land of which it oversees, a steady presence against the winds of difficulties. This year’s CSM Concrete Cano team encompasses that same kind of balance, using our power to pass through the treacherous winds of this pandemic. In a nod to a challenging year full of growth, the team chose to personify balance with it’s chosen team name Statera: the direct Latin translation.

The achievements of Daedalus (2nd RMRSC, 11th overall NCCC, 2018), The Kraken (1st RMRSC, 14th NCCC, 2019) and the flexibility shown by Oh, The Places You’ll Row! (2020) encouraged this years’ team to continue to seek success through perseverance, innovation and determination. Mimicking the successful team structure of previous years, leaders were elected to manage the major subsystems that go into a canoe design. Responding to today’s challenges, the Safety lead had a greater responsibility to keep the team and others safe and healthy. Despite a new competition format, the team recognized the opportunity to place more emphasis on material testing and developing better data management practices in the hope of furthering the legacy at Colorado School of Mines. 

With the teams’ desire for a vibrant canoe in mind, the team connected with Tim Cate at Wells Concrete, who generously donated two shades of red pigments, a vibrant blue, and a black pigment. The chosen Enhanced Focus Areas (EFA) of Lab Material Testing and Team Website allowed for a more focused approach to the Concrete Canoe Competition. While the Team Website is geared towards creating an accessible and understandable platform that future teams can reference back to, the Lab Material Testing EFA allows for detailed, data based aesthetic decisions. The final canoe color scheme was influenced by the strength values recorded through various test mixes. While the team had initially planned on having a base-red design, the strength values for the blue mix were the highest of the test mixes. In an effort to maximize the strength of the canoe, a base-blue, black scale outline and red eye design was chosen (see Figure 1).

Enhanced Focus Area Overview

In an effort to curb the effects of COVID-19 on the ASCE Concrete Canoe Competition, the Concrete Canoe Committee developed the Enhanced Focus Areas to allow for more creativity and exploration of different subjects by the various teams. The Colorado School of Mines Team landed on developing a website that could be used for data storage, and focused intently on lab material testing. The value added to the project from both the team website and the lab material testing is detailed in the Venn Diagram below.


A conceptual design of Statera: the force behind the balanced innovation

Vibrant blue concrete mix before and after testing curing

Lab Material Testing

The beginning of each year of concrete canoe involves hours of planning by the team for everything including team goals, aesthetics, ideal concrete properties, individual assignments, and scheduling time for lab usage and testing. Due to the disconnect between years of CSM Concrete Canoe, not much is passed down in the way of lab procedures. One of the major goals of the 2021 team was to give future teams a better understanding of mixing practices and best laboratory procedures. Statera aimed to create a standardized lab procedure while undergoing tests to achieve the team’s desired concrete mix properties.

To accomplish the ambitious testing goals, the team established five rounds of testing. Each round of mix design testing focused on a component of concrete and its correlating effect. With an analytic approach, each round also provided the ability for incremental mix design development. The team used newer methods of constructing the canoe, including the use of shrink wrap and an engraving method for the aesthetic design.

Rounds 1 and 2

Round-1 material testing centered on determining an aggregate for the mix design. Statera first considered utilizing previous years’ leftover cylinders as recycled concrete aggregates. A possibility of inconsistent results persuaded the team to search for a different aggregate source. As detailed in Table 1a, Arcosa Lightweight Expanded Shale was selected for the final mix design. Several studies suggest that expanded shale can increase the rate of internal curing which contributes to better hydration, strength development and reduced early age cracking (Arcosa Lightweight 2020) (Kaliq and Javaid 2017). Time, research goals, and lab access prevented the team from further investigation of internal curing properties during the 2021 competition.

Round-2 focused on secondary reinforcement (fibers) so the team could test concepts found from an online continuing education website (AEC Daily Training 2021) and fibers previously used by past years. Solomon Colors UltraFiber 500®’s ability to increase vibrancy of the pigments and the noted increase in compressive and flexural strength allowed the team to use larger quantities of the pigment, effectively reducing any negative effects of powders and pigments. The FiberForce 150TM and FiberForce 300TM were provided by one of the team’s technical advisors through Martin Marietta. Past CSM teams have used the FiberForce 150TM with success, but as Statera was given the opportunity to work with FiberForce 300TM, the team capitalized on its higher bonding capabilities.

See the table above for detailed table report on Rounds one and two of material testing.

Round 3

Round-3 mix testing provided major contributions to the final mix design. Several meetings were held with technical advisors from Kiewit, Martin Marietta, and Chryso Inc. to discuss air entrainment, mixing procedures, SCMs, and fibers. With the heavier weight of expanded shale as the primary aggregate (compared to microspheres), the mix depends on increased fiber and air contents to lower the density. Health guidelines, decreased supply of natural sources, and increased shipping times related to COVID-19 were considered when selecting the team’s cementitious content. Both Martin Marietta and Chryso Inc. generously provided chemical air entrainers and cementitious materials to the team. For pigments, Statera connected with Wells Concrete for donations, recommended dosages, and how to mitigate air content loss. Statera recognized the potential impacts of pigments to the concrete’s structural integrity and air content and felt the testing was necessary to select the best possible mix design.


Rounds 4&5

Round-4 material testing focused on consolidating data and refining the final mix design. Statera focused on lowering the density of the previous mixes to a range of 85-90pcf. This round started experimenting with values not typically seen in concrete canoe mix design. Most batches targeted an air content of 30%, with an increased Solomon Colors UltraFiber 500® dosage of 4lb/yd3 and FiberForce 300TM dosage of 1.5 lb/yd3. One batch targeted 40% air content to push the boundaries of mix design and lightness in relation to strength. Due to a tight schedule, cylinders from Round-4 were tested at 17 and 19 days to help the team analyze round results. While these values are not respected by ASTM standards, they helped provide the team enough time to finalize all associated calculations and reports. The team was also able to evaluate the performance of the mix by casting on a practice mold, see Figure 6. The team successfully decreased mix density, but struggled with the associated strength decrease. While the blue mix scored relatively high in compressive strength testing, Statera noted there was no definitive pop at failure. The team attributed this to early testing.

Round-5 testing accomplished Statera’s final mix design criteria, scoring high in air content (27.5%) and low in unit weight (83.5pcf). While the vibrant color was not achieved, the 7-day compressive and flexural strength values (with projected 28-day strengths) reassured the overall design of Statera’s canoe.

Mold Construction

Along with material testing, Statera developed a new type of mold cover. Previous teams have used vinyl in their molds to create a smooth exterior with aesthetic imprints. This year, shrink wrap was tested as an alternative. Shrink wrap has a consistent surface that molds well into creases, while vinyl is hard to place in the corners of the canoe and leaves imprints where the vinyl sheets intersect. The team wanted to test a material that would create an easier method of removal and a sleek surface that wouldn’t need to be sanded. From prototype testing, shrink wrap left a shiny finish on the concrete and would require minimal sanding. Figure 6 shows the shiny surface mentioned.
For mold construction, the team used a projector to trace outlines on foam boards. Previous teams used a CNC machine for this, but Statera’s method used a projector already available to them and reduced cost and time overall. The boards were then cut using electric foam cutters and bonded together using a spray adhesive. The spray adhesive ensured the mold would hold together during sanding. These steps reduced the amount of time needed to create the mold by allowing the team to create the whole mold in one sitting rather than having to gain access to a CNC machine.


Mold Construction Continued

Statera also used a new method of placing designs on the canoe exterior using a cutaway on the foam mold. Previous years have used inlays and then filled the area with concrete after the mold was removed, but this year the team used foam cutters to place ridges within the foam to create a groove to fill with concrete during the initial casting process. This method allows the designs to have the same smooth finish given by the shrink wrap unlike years past where the aggregate was visible and not smooth. The figure to the left shows the type of inlay previous years used to create their designs and the final result of those inlays. The figure also shows the cutaway idea to be utilized on the mold. Statera found that the cutaways in the prototype were too small to give the effect the team wanted. The next prototype built will include bigger cutaways.



Team Website

At the beginning of each concrete canoe season, Mines project managers are given access to a Google Drive (“Drive”) containing all of the information that past teams have used. Because the CSM Concrete Canoe is done as a part of the Capstone Senior Design course offered, there is a strong disconnect between different teams of different years. Most knowledge is passed through the team’s Drive. This year, Statera came to the realization that the Drive was not complete since files were deleted after alumni graduated and their Mines Google accounts got deactivated. The Drive storage capacity was nearly full, and the team feared their files for the upcoming year would not all fit.

The team looked at the different options they had to share resources with future teams. An initial idea involved using a physical hard drive that could be kept by one of the annual technical advisors. After further discussion, the team agreed that they would like to see a way for finalized technical report information to be shared with the general public, while more detailed research could be shared with only future teams’ eyes. This naturally gave way to a team website, where different pieces of information can be shared conditionally and at the current team’s discrepancy.

The Colorado School of Mines ASCE Chapter has been using a website for several years already, and one of the team members of Statera had experience working with it. After spending some time pricing different options within their budget, Statera reached out to their student chapter to see if website access could be shared with them. With ASCE’s permission, the Mines Concrete Canoe Team was given access to the chapter website and are allowed to add information they see fit to their pages.

Statera was able to add pages to the ASCE site at no cost to the team, since the website host platform is already provided to the ASCE student chapter through the Colorado School of Mines. Two separate pages, one public and one private, were created to hold the team’s research, results, and final design. Their public page includes team information, excerpts from various deliverables including the Technical Report and Enhanced Focus Area Report, and additional deliverables including the R. John Craig Legacy video to be presented at the Rocky Mountain Conference Concrete Canoe Competition. The private page will be accessible only by those who have editing access to the ASCE website; it will include all research, testing data, recommendations, contacts, videos, and any additional knowledge the team wishes to share with future Mines Concrete Canoe Teams.

Statera encourages future teams to utilize the Drive while actively working on their project, and to upload their files into the website at the end of their tenure as members of the Concrete Canoe team.


Canoe Design

Hull Design

After an evaluation of the last three years of CSM’s designs and their chosen focuses, successes, and failures. Statera decided to focus on secondhand stability, speed, maneuverability, constructability, and a new aesthetic design. The team created a set of desired aesthetic and performance criteria to ensure that the canoe will efficiently exceed the expectations set in the RFP.

Many types of canoes were considered throughout the process. A table was developed to evaluate the different types of sides, keels, stems, entry type, rocker, and symmetry. The pros and cons of each hull geometry were also evaluated. Refer to the table to the left for all pros and cons, as well as the designs from previous years.


The canoe was modeled in Delftship, a program used to design ships and analyze their qualities. The program allowed the team to start from a basic canoe design and edit points to create the desired hull shape. This design was used to calculate the freeboard and seaworthiness using Delftship’s “Design Hydrostatics” function. In order to create detailed cross sections of the mold, the Delftship file was imported into SolidWorks

Construction Process

Mix Desgin

To meet the challenge outlined in the RFP, Statera used locally sourced lightweight, structural fine expanded shale aggregate, high air contents and several sources of supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) to achieve a low density, low weight, high strength mix design. It was understood that it would be difficult to meet these new guidelines on aggregates without using microspheres. The team ranked mix design properties from highest priority (6) to lowest priority (1). Using a component table, the team decided on priorities for the mix design. This helped set specific goals to focus on throughout lab testing and helped guide research for developing a strong, light, and efficient mix design. It was important to the team to test lightweight aggregates, implement fibers for increased compressive and tensile strength and plastic shrinkage mitigation, refine SCM content for strength development, determine water-to-cementitious (w/cm) ratios, and explore pigment amounts and their corresponding effects. Specimens created in each round of testing abided by standardized preparation (ASTM C192), and testing procedures for Compressive Strength (ASTM C39) and Flexure Strength (ASTM C78).

Final Mix Strength Values

R. John Craig Legacy Video