The University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering’s concrete canoe team finished among the top 15 teams at the national competition in California over the weekend.
It was the sixth appearance by a team from the university in the 23-year history of the competition. Just like their competitors, UH earned a chance to compete in San Luis Obispo, Calif. after winning their regional contest earlier this year.
Throughout the course of the three-day event, UH students were pitted against 21 other national qualifiers. A team’s overall score was based on their performance in each of the competition’s four categories—an oral presentation, design paper, physical display and five canoe races.
UH earned 10th place for their paper, 11th for their final product and 13th for their oral presentation. It was the races on Lopez Lake, Team Captain Jesica Baptista said, which dropped them down to an overall showing of 15 with their 215-pound canoe, Steer Clear.
"We didn’t have the chance to practice enough with the concrete canoe leading up to our competition, which really put us behind in the races,” said Baptista, a three-year concrete canoe veteran and now a graduate of the Cullen College. “The experience was still really amazing. It was so motivating to see what can be done with more resources. We learned so much that we hope to use next year.”
Baptista and a few of the team’s other canoe veterans said they plan to come back and mentor next year’s group—passing along valuable lessons on paddling technique and presentation gleaned from their trip to nationals.
The UH team placed ahead of Louisiana Tech University, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, Rutgers University, University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa, University of Buffalo, Fairmont State University and University of California Los Angeles. All teams at the competition had made it to nationals at least one time previous.
Prior to this year’s showing, UH’s most recent appearances were in 2007 and 2008.