"How can concrete even float?!"

"Any object, wholly or partially immersed in a fluid, is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object."

-Archimedes, Greek Mathematician and Engineer

Archimedes' Principle, developed in 250 B.C.E by the famous engineer, holds true no less today than in antiquity. Ships have been constructed of steel, fiberglass, and other materials more dense than water for hundreds of years. Displaced water exerts a force on the boat, which keeps it afloat if the material is shaped properly. This allows for all manner and sizes of vessels to float - regardless of construction material!

However, for safety purposes we use concrete that is less dense than water. This means that in the event of capsizing, our canoe will remain safely above water level and will not pose a safety or navigational hazard. (The Titanic should have taken notes!) We accomplish this through the use of glass bead aggregates instead of the rock or gravel used in standard concrete. This reduces the density of the overall canoe to less than that of water, so it floats even when filled with water and paddlers!

Our year is divided into separate segments: Design, analysis & testing, construction, quality control, and finishing. Members are encouraged to contribute whenever they can to any phase of the project that interests them ? as much or as little time as you want to!

Interesting in finding how you can get involved? Find where you fall below!


  • Experience in a huge industry with the most common construction material in civil engineering - concrete!
  • Real world experience in project management, testing, and the development of an exceptional final product
  • Get involved with American Society of Civil Engineers competitions with your defending 2013 Great Lakes Regionals Champions!


  • Experience with chemical compounds present in concrete and cementitious materials
  • Balance stoichiometric formulas to obtain optimum concrete ratios
  • Show you can do industry-specific blending of mixes outside of a controlled lab environment
  • Draw conclusions from actual test results (ie, addition of excess lime contributes what to the end concrete strength/density?) and show that this data can be incorporated into future batches.
  • Experience with batch processing and iterative testing procedure - core concept for all R&D Testing


  • Model stresses on a static and dynamic system using cutting-edge 3D software
  • Get familiar with aspects of using computer modeling before learning in the classroom - step ahead of the rest!
  • Gain experience in project management, problem solving, and scheduling of a project!
  • Learn what it?s like to work alongside different types of engineers, and use your particular skills to accomplish tasks!
  • Apply Mechanics of Materials


  • Strain gauge electrical voltage measurement system for pre-stressing steel cables


  • Process improvement on an established system.


  • Apply industrial safety standards to a working lab and ensure air filtration systems are always keeping us safe while working!


  • Gain experience dealing with fluidized rock-gravel-sand-silica beds in specific packing arrangements
  • Plan for adhesion of layers to each other; avoid stratification that is seen in geological processes.