On the calm waters of Lake Erie, against the backdrop of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 25 civil-engineering students across North America raced canoes they crafted out of lightweight concrete and special reinforcing materials. The goal: to win the 1997 ASCE/Master Builders National Concrete Canoe Competition and a $5,000 scholarship for the school's undergraduate civil-engineering program. Demonstrating perseverance, team spirit and concrete know-how, the Florida Institute of Technology earned the top prize, upsetting reigning champion University of Alabama Huntsville. FIT team members spent nearly 2,800 hours designing and building their concrete canoe, named Chip Off the Old Block. The vessel is 19 feet long, weighs 80 pounds and has walls only ¬ inch thick.

This race marks the 10-year history of the annual competition, which is organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers, Reston, Va., and sponsored by Master Builders Inc., Cleveland.