Engineering students create concrete canoe

Participants in the annual Concrete Boat Race have just seven days to build a competitive boat.

Kavin Seretlo is a SANRAL bursary recipient who participated in the race.

The annual Concrete Boat Race, hosted by the Concrete Society of South Africa (CSSA), is a fun way of introducing tertiary students to the uses of concrete and cement.

Teams taking part in the competition have a week to construct a lightweight working boat that can be paddled by two people.

Team Mapungubwe, made up of 10 students from the University of Johannesburg, are sponsored by the South African National Roads Agency (SOC) Limited (SANRAL). The team also included SANRAL bursary recipient, Kavin Seretlo.

Other notable contributors to the race are: OnTime Ready Mix, a ready-mixed concrete supplier; Chryso Southern Africa, a leader in the construction chemicals industry; and, the University of Johannesburg.

The competition brings together members from various disciplines that make up the Concrete Society, as well as students from tertiary institutions.

The event serves to introduce students to the cement and concrete industry and facilitate networking between the various interest groups in a fun atmosphere.

The student teams do extensive research on different construction methods and materials in constructing their concrete boat – providing members with practical hands-on experience working as a team on a project.

“We did a lot of research so as to broaden our knowledge to help us achieve the desired results,” Seretlo said, adding: “We regard this excellent opportunity as an honour for the exposure, skills and knowledge we acquired.”

The team learnt many of the basic skills Civil Engineers require in their careers, Seretlo said.

All in seven days

The design of the canoe is broken down into five main parts: calculations and analysis to come up with the dimensions; the concrete mix design; mould design, using polystyrene; the construction of the boat; and painting.

This was all done within seven days. Then it was time to put their efforts to the test, on the water.

“Our efforts and work paid off as we managed to come in fifth place out of 50 other competitors,” Seretlo said.

The team was pleased that one of the sponsors had decided to keep the boat to display at their headquarters.