The Miller School of Albemarle competing in concrete canoe competition

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 10:26 AM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Students at The Miller School of Albemarle are making waves in a concrete canoe they are designing to compete against colleges.

“Last year, Mr. Henry approached the college competition for the concrete canoe, and he wrote them an email saying that he would like to compete in the competition. The colleges scoffed at us because we’re high schoolers, there’s different competitions for high schoolers,” Team Captain Zoe Martin said.

The American Society of Civil Engineers sponsors a yearly concrete canoe competition that is usually just for college students.

“They gave us the challenge that if we could create a canoe that would float that we would be able to compete in the next year’s competition. We did,” Martin said.

Now The Miller School is sending a team to compete in the 2022 regional competition.

“We’ll be competing against other colleges that are doing exactly what we’re doing, they’re building their own canoe, they’re putting four people in the canoe to row 200 meters and back. They have a team of 10, five guys, five girls,” Team Captain Alex Evanow said.

Students built an 8 foot canoe last year to quality for the competition, but this year they have to make a 16 foot canoe.

“We have a mix design team, a hull design team, an artistic team, a construction team and a paddling team. Actually I like to joke around that we have more students on our mix design team than we had all of last year,” Director of the Applied Engineering Program Ryan Henry said.

Their passion for getting elbow deep into projects keep these students coming back.

“It’s great to go into different courses take a test, get a good grade but it’s even better when you can get something out of it that you can physically touch,” Martin said.

“I love doing hands-on work, and this opportunity was a great chance to actually show all my interests in engineering,” Evanow said.

“I’ve been teaching for a number of years and I’ve really I’ve never seen this level of commitment, this level of excitement for anything in school, it’s really exciting, it’s invigorating,” Henry said.

The canoe even has a name: “Wave Maker.”

“As being this one and only first high school engineering team that is actually participating in this competition, we really do believe that we are creating that ripple,” team member Shawn Lee said.

“We are so proud of these kids, they epitomize our motto of minds, hands and hearts,” Mike Drude, the head of The Miller School, said.

The competition will take place in April at the Virginia Military Institute.

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