Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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July 3, 2013

A solid sixth; ULowell cement canoe team near top at nationals

ULowell’s student team placed sixth recently at the national concrete canoe competition, finishing near the top among counterparts from institutions across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

The three-day competition — presented by the American Society of Civil Engineers and hosted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — asked student teams to design, build and race canoes made entirely of concrete.

ULowell was the only university from New England and one of only two from the Northeast among the 23 teams entered in the competition. David Nader of Andover was a member of the team.

Ecole de technologie superieure, an engineering school in the University of Quebec system, took first place.

The 20-person ULowell team competed with the canoe the students named “Moswetuset,” a Native American word meaning “shaped like an arrowhead” and the origin of the name “Massachusetts.”

The watercraft measured 19 feet 8 inches long, 26 inches across at its widest point and 13 inches deep. Weighing in at 132 pounds, it was molded from a lightweight concrete and reinforced with fiberglass mesh.

In addition to judging on design, construction and presentation, the student teams also competed on the water, racing in a variety of events from endurance to slalom. Three races had to be canceled because of weather conditions. Before racing, the canoes had to pass a “swamp test,” during which each was submerged and had to resurface on its own.

“The whole team is very enthusiastic about next year. Ideas are already flying and we will be starting to lay out those ideas in a few weeks,” said Jonathan Ernst of Billerica, the civil engineering major who is the team’s project manager.

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