Will it float? Students put canoes to the test - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Will it float? Students put canoes to the test

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - San Diego State is hosting schools from all of the region this weekend for an annual civil engineers' conference.

Students are putting a variety of skills to the test, and on Friday, the competition was fierce. The crowd along the shores of Mission Bay was pumped, but it's not for what you might think. All the excitement was over concrete canoes.

"It's actually very porous, and then you've got the cavity, which keeps it afloat also," SDSU junior Taylor White said.

Friday's canoe competition is part of the four-day American Society of Civil Engineers' Pacific Southwest Conference. For the first time in 18 years, San Diego State is hosting the event, with 18 schools and 1,000 students taking part.

"We get to showcase what we have. We get to showcase our beautiful school, the area and then out on a conference that people love," SDSU junior and event chair Chris Yamaguchi said.

Of all the schools participating, the University of Hawaii traveled the farthest. They also paid the most to get their canoe and their team to San Diego.

"About $8,700 just for the container, just for the logistics. That does not include the added cost of people, which is a good $50,000," a student said.

Building these canoes takes about a year, not to mention artistic creativity.

"Every school is required to come up with a theme. This year, we decided to go with el luchador," an SDSU student said.

San Diego State also included their rally dog as part of that theme.

While the canoe race is a highlight of this engineering conference, it's not the only event. Teams are scored collectively on other activities, ranging from building steel bridges to paper presentations and even volleyball. Judges are professional engineers. Ultimately, the team and school with the most points will move onto nationals.

Win or lose, everyone has the opportunity to network and have some fun at the same time.


"Some of us don't know each other so we're making good connections," a participant said.

The conference ends on Sunday. Many of the events are free to the public.

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