Project Work Ramps Up At Semester’s End

Final exams are occupying the thoughts of S&T’s design team members, but that doesn’t stop the Miners from working on their design projects. The fall semester is typically when the teams begin work on their various land, air and water craft, and construction gets in full gear right after semester break.
The Concrete Canoe Team has already undertaken some testing and training for their new design. New members got a chance to practice the team’s traditional concrete application methods, and for those who haven’t seen the hectic assembly-line process imagine a dozen or more students mixing concrete and rolling it out like pizza dough then placing each gooey slab in the form like a mosaic.
Canoespray2.jpgFor 2009 the crew is trying something new. First they’ve lined the canoe mold with foil tape to get a smoother surface finish and make it easier to remove the boat from the form. They are also using a new (to them) spray-on process known as “shot-crete” to apply the mix. Compressed air powers a hopper gun and sprays the slurry onto the form much like heavy spray paint. It will take layer after thin layer, interspersed with reinforcing mesh, to keep the canoe strong. The Miners feel that this will provide a more uniform structure, improve air entrapment, and strengthen the boat by eliminating the patchwork seams of years past. Taking a break from final exams is mix designer Matthew Struemph spraying the first test batch, Patrick Tilk placing the mesh and team leader Mark Ezzell evaluating the process.
One hush-hush feature of the new process is the hope that the boat will be significantly lighter. Anyone who has tried to move these boats on land OR water will greatly appreciate that feature.

Lest we forget, projects like these would not be possible without the generous support of many individuals and firms. In 2007 Dow Chemical donated enough blue foam to support nearly two years’ worth of student design projects. The canoe group relies on Dow foam to build their boat molds, and Human Powered Vehicle, Baja, Formula SAE, and the famous Solar Miner race car (and countless homeowners) all benefit from Dow’s energy-saving technologies.