California Polytechnic State University: Concrete Canoe Team Sets Record with Sixth National Title

The Cal Poly concrete canoe team got back in the water after a two-year pandemic delay and claimed a sixth national title at the 2022 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Concrete Canoe Competition at Louisiana Tech University in June.

The Cal Poly win snapped what had been a four-way tie with UC Berkeley, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of Wisconsin for the school with the most titles in the competition’s 35-year history.

Cal Poly also won concrete canoe championships in 2010-12, 2017 and 2018.

“It feels amazing,” said Heather Migdal, a civil engineering senior from Cupertino, California, who served as construction team lead. “My team and I have sacrificed so much of our time working on the canoe this year, so taking home the national title made it all worth it. It truly became a labor of love.”

Competing with their space-themed canoe “Europa” against 19 other universities, seven Cal Poly civil engineering students and an environmental engineering major not only swept the races but also finished first in the technical presentation and technical proposal categories of the competition and second in the final product prototype. Université Laval of Canada finished second, Western Kentucky was third, Youngstown State was fourth and New York University-Tandon finished fifth.

Cal Poly also received the R. John Craig Memorial Award, which honors the New Jersey Institute of Technology professor who spent several years promoting his grand vision of the National Concrete Canoe Competition to the ASCE but died just months before the first event was held in 1988. In the years since, the competition has become a perennial favorite for tens of thousands of college students in the United States and beyond.

ASCE presents the award to the winner of the Coed Sprint Race as a memorial to Craig’s teamwork and dedication.

“I’m so proud of our team for breaking this record and having the most all-time wins,” said Migdal. “We didn’t know what to expect when we got here because there hadn’t been a national competition in a few years but knew we would see some pretty canoes. It was just so exciting to see how everything turned out.”