Despite the clouds, thunder and occasional lightning, the event being held yesterday at Tuscaloosa's Lake Nicol looked like an ordinary canoe race. The canoes these competitors were racing were far from ordinary, though; in fact, the competitors themselves were anything but typical. They were civil engineering students from across the United States and Canada, and the canoes they were racing are made of concrete.

With equal parts technical skill, creativity and determination, the University of California, Berkeley captured the 'America's Cup of Civil Engineering' yesterday at the American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) 22nd Annual National Concrete Canoe Competition. Their first championship since 1992, Berkeley's 230 pound, 20-foot-long canoe, the Bear Area, defeated entries from 21 other top engineering schools.

The University of California, Berkeley captured the 'America's Cup of Civil Engineering' at the American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) 22nd Annual National Concrete Canoe Competition. Their first championship since 1992, Berkeley's 230 pound, 20-foot-long canoe, the Bear Area, defeated entries from 21 other top engineering schools
The University of California, Berkeley captured the 'America's Cup of Civil Engineering' at the American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) 22nd Annual National Concrete Canoe Competition. Their first championship since 1992, Berkeley's 230 pound, 20-foot-long canoe, the Bear Area, defeated entries from 21 other top engineering schools

"Over the past three days, these outstanding civil engineering students have shown that technical skills combined with an innate sense of creativity can turn a seemingly impossible task into a reality," said ASCE president D. Wayne Klotz, P.E., D.WRE, F.ASCE. "With the innovative thinking we saw during the competition in Alabama, I can't wait to see what's to come from these students in the future as they begin their professional careers."

Berkeley's closest competitors were second place Ecole de technologie superieure (ETS) with the 190 pound, 20-foot-long Vintage, and the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, which finished a close third with the 246 pound, 20-foot-long canoe, also called the Vintage. For their top finishes, the Berkeley, ETS and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo earned $5,000, $2,500 and $1,500 in scholarship money, respectively.

The 2009 ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition teams in order of final rank are:

1. University of California, Berkeley
2. Ecole de technologie superieure
3. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
4. University of Florida
5. University of Nevada, Reno
6. New Mexico State University
7. Universite Laval
8. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
9. University of Alabama in Huntsville
10. University of Cincinnati
11. University of Wisconsin - Platteville
12. Clemson University
13. Ohio Northern University
14. Polytechnic Institute of New York University
15. University of Evansville
16. University of Washington
17. Fairmont State University
18. Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville
19. University of Texas at Tyler
20. University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
21. University of Memphis
22. University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

The races counted for only 25 percent of the teams' overall score. The remaining 75 percent was based on a technical design paper; a formal oral presentation; and the end product--the final racing canoe and project display, which were scored on aesthetics and visual presentation. Special awards were given to two teams.

The event, organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers and hosted by the University of Alabama, was made possible by the support of the American Concrete Institute; Baker Concrete Construction; World of Concrete; and Holcim (US) Inc.

The National Concrete Canoe Competition is organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers and is funded by the generous support of the American Concrete Institute; Baker Concrete Construction; World of Concrete; and Holcim (US) Inc. This year's event is hosted by the University of Alabama.