Live Oak —
Three Suwannee High School graduates, who now attend the University of Florida, helped their school win first place overall at the regional competition at the American Society of Civil Engineer’s (ASCE) Southeast Regional Competition in Tampa recently. The school also earned first place in both concrete canoe and steel bridge competitions.
Ethan Butts, a 2011 graduate of SHS, is a student at the University of Florida and is pursuing a degree in civil engineering focusing in structures/construction field, with a minor in coastal engineering. He is a member of the UF Civil Engineering Concrete Canoe Team. On June 19-21, his team will be going on to the nationals which will be held in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
The ASCE Concrete Canoe Team designs, builds and races concrete canoes every year in student competitions. Team members learn how to create concrete mix designs, build molds, paddle competitively and give professional presentations.
“In the concrete canoe competition, I was one of the main people involved in the construction of the wooden canoe mold and the actual concrete canoe poured on the mold. I also competed as the men’s sprint paddler in the canoe races,” Butts said.
Butts joined the team at the beginning of the 2013 academic school year and has been busy with it ever since.
“Much of the first few months were spent building the actual canoe, and the latter few practicing our paddling techniques, and visual design of the canoe and display,” he said.
The canoe Butts assisted in constructing was 22 feet long and made of three layers of concrete sprayed on the mold with a shotcrete gun. The final boat weighed in at only 150 pounds with special lightweight concrete developed by team members. There were 36 mixes that were designed and tested before this one was chosen. The overall theme was Indy car racing.
Butts said there are a total of nine paddlers, including men’s sprint, women’s sprint, men’s endurance, women’s endurance and a co-ed race. Many of the same people helped in the construction of the canoe but an additional six people were also present to help mix and batch concrete for the canoe.
“Seeing all our hard work and dedication pay off is a great feeling,” Butts said. “We are all looking forward to representing the Gator Nation at nationals this summer.”