Over the last 12 months, more than three-​​dozen civil engi­neering stu­dents con­structed a 240-​​pound con­crete canoe for a regional engi­neering design com­pe­ti­tion. They nick­named it “Strap­less” in memory of last year’s craft that broke in half.

Engi­neering is about con­stantly changing and improving,” said senior Brian Franklin, who helped recon­struct last year’s canoe with sealant and straps for a bicycle rack. “We wanted this year’s boat to reflect the path we’ve taken to get to this point.”

Bouncing back from that hard expe­ri­ence, in April, the club fin­ished in sixth place in the 2011 New Eng­land Regional Con­crete Canoe Com­pe­ti­tion orga­nized by the Uni­ver­sity of Rhode Island’s stu­dent chapter of the Amer­ican Society of Civil Engi­neers. Fif­teen teams, from Boston to Quebec, were judged on canoe design, a written report, an oral pre­sen­ta­tion and the craft’s per­for­mance in five endurance races at Burlingame State Park, in Charleston, RI.

The North­eastern engi­neers spent some 2,000 hours designing and fab­ri­cating the canoe on a $6,000 budget. They used hollow recy­cled glass spheres, fine-​​grain silica and water to make a durable, low-​​density con­crete mix.

Project man­ager Ezra Jam­pole, a senior who joined the team four years ago, cred­ited his course­work and inde­pen­dent research with teaching him how pick the best mate­rials for the con­crete mix and per­form a finite ele­ment analysis of the canoe’s strength.

This project taught me how to take a design on paper and turn it into some­thing you con­struct in the field,” said Jam­pole, who called building the canoe “a lot of fun.”

The high­light of the project, he said, was the fin­ished product. “As soon as we took the canoe out of the mold, I knew we’d do pretty well in com­pe­ti­tion,” he said. “It had a really nice finish.”

Jerome Hajjar, pro­fessor and chair of the civil and envi­ron­mental engi­neering depart­ment, praised the student’s teamwork.

They were cer­tainly a very cohe­sive team,” said Hajjar, who oversaw the remod­eling of the soil and mate­rials lab­o­ra­tory, where the stu­dents built the 20-​​feet long canoe. “They were extremely inno­v­a­tive and enthusiastic.”