Northeastern’s con­crete canoe team will par­tic­i­pate in the Amer­ican Society of Civil Engi­neers’ 2014 New Eng­land Regional Con­crete Canoe Com­pe­ti­tion at Bare Hill Pond in Har­vard, Mass. on April 26. More than a dozen teams, from Boston to Quebec, will be judged on canoe design, a written report, an oral pre­sen­ta­tion, and the craft’s per­for­mance in five endurance races. The winner will move on to the national com­pe­ti­tion, which will be held in June at the Uni­ver­sity of Pitts­burgh at John­stown. Here are five things you should know before the com­pe­ti­tion begins.

Time well spent

A team of 30 North­eastern stu­dents spent 5,000 man-​​hours designing and fab­ri­cating the canoe on a $4,000 budget. The group used two types of cement, glass spheres, latex, and water to make a durable, low-​​density, and envi­ron­men­tally friendly con­crete mix. Working on the canoe, said project man­ager Andrew Brunn, E’14, was a “great way to get my hands dirty and build cama­raderie in an aca­d­emic setting.”

Why bigger isn’t better

The canoe is 18 feet long and weighs 245 pounds, some 25 pounds less than last year’s craft. To decrease the weight, the team spent 500 hours sanding the canoe, reducing the thick­ness of the con­crete from three-​​fourths of an inch to one-​​half an inch. The result, Brunn said, is a lighter yet stronger vessel, one that can hold at least 800 pounds.

What’s in a name?

The team nick­named the canoe “Incendia,” the Latin word for the phrase “to ignite.” A few mem­bers helped paint a large phoenix on the bottom of the boat, a tribute to the group’s growing strength. “Last year was the first time in recent memory that our canoe stayed together in com­pe­ti­tion,” Brunn said. “This year, we are building off that success.”

Built to last

Incendia is too fragile—and too expensive—to use in prac­tice for the endurance races, but that doesn’t mean the canoe is not built to last. In fact, Brunn said, “It could be your reg­ular plea­sure craft on the lake. It’s struc­turally sound, so you could paddle for days.”

The expert’s prediction

The team’s written report—an 18-​​page account of eight months of work in charts, graphs, photos, and text—is “phe­nom­enal,” in Brunn’s words, and the group’s oral pre­sen­ta­tion fig­ures to be “out­standing.” What remains to be seen is the team’s per­for­mance in the endurance races, but Brunn has high hopes. “I think our canoe will look great, and we’ll com­pete with the best,” he pre­dicted. “We’ll see where we wind up and hope­fully we can get to the national championship.”