WKU’s concrete canoe team finishes third in national competition

Western Kentucky University engineering students placed third overall – the school’s best finish ever — in the 35th annual American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Concrete Canoe Competition+.

WKU’s Mon Row, named for “The Father of Bluegrass” Bill Monroe, placed in the top 10 in every category of the competition, held June 3-5 at Louisiana Tech University. WKU finished first in enhanced focus area, third in final product, fifth in project proposal and seventh in oral presentation. In canoe races, WKU placed fourth in co-ed sprint, fourth in men’s sprint, fifth in women’s sprint, fifth in women’s slalom and eighth in men’s slalom.

The top five finishers in the 2022 ASCE Society-Wide Concrete Canoe Competition were California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; Universite Laval, Quebec City, Canada; WKU, Youngstown State University; and New York University–Tandon. Nineteen teams from across the country and around the world competed in the three-day event.

“I’m really proud of the students,” said Jason Wilson, Civil Engineering & Construction Management Program Coordinator. “This will be something they’ll cherish for the rest of their lives.”

This year’s team added to a legacy of success that includes fourth-place overall finishes in 2002, 2007 and 2016.

“Our ASCE student chapter has a long history of successfully competing and representing WKU at the international level,” said Dr. Stacy Wilson, director of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “We are especially proud of our students this year in the unprecedented level of achievement.”

This year’s ASCE competition was held in-person for the first time since 2019. COVID forced the 2021 competitions online as virtual events, while the 2020 edition was canceled.

That meant the students faced a steep learning curve as they prepared for the 2022 regional and national competitions, project manager Grayson Booher of Burkesville said. “Our goals were high so to come out in third place, I’m happy with the way things turned out,” he said.

Booher, one of several team members who graduated from WKU last month and are beginning full-time positions, said the applied learning experience provides students with the project management, teamwork and problem-solving skills needed in their professional careers.

“There’s not many jobs out there where you create a concrete canoe,” Booher said, “but being able to manage people, it really helps in every job because every project you do you need to know how to work with people and manage people. “

Baron Williams of Owensboro agreed, calling the concrete canoe project “one of the best experiences of my life.”

“To see all of our hard work for the past year be rewarded with third place means a lot to us,” Williams said. “After these past nine months, I feel extremely close to every single person working on the team. It was an honor working with all of them.”

Jessica Clouser of Elgin, Illinois, was also proud of the team’s national finish. “I think it shows a lot of hard work, teamwork and communication that had to be involved to make this project come to life,” she said.

In addition to a role on the construction team, Clouser was on the canoe race team. “It felt good to be out there showing people what we could do,” she said. “We were looking for a top five finish. We were happy to be the first team from WKU to get third place.”

WKU advanced to the national competition with its first-place finish at the Indiana/Kentucky regional symposium in April. WKU will host the regional competition in April 2023.

WKU students also finished 10th overall in the ASCE UESI Surveying Competition. WKU placed ninth in Topographic Mapping and 10th in Field Tasks in the event’s first in-person competition.

Concrete canoe team members included: Rafah Alaaa senior from Bowling Green; Saif Alaaa senior from Bowling Green; Grayson Boohera senior from Burkesville; Evan Brittenhama freshman from Bowling Green; Nathan Catesa sophomore from Russellville; Jordan Clementsa senior from Liberty; Jessica Closera senior from Elgin, Illinois; Hayes Coffeya senior from Russell Springs; Logan Conwaya senior from Central City; Trevor Cronina senior from Georgetown; Riley Davisa senior from Bowling Green; Matt Decka senior from Hopkinsville; Jonathan Grabera senior from Central City; Tevin Leigha senior from Stanford; Keeley McKnighta freshman from Danville; Brandon Reeda senior from Glasgow; Cheyenne Rogersa senior from Franklin; Gregory Ryana junior from Monticello; Rob Skipwortha sophomore from Russellville; Dalton Sledgea senior from Oakland; Ben Spratta junior from Dry Ridge; Tyler Tompkinsa senior from Bowling Green; Baron Williams, a senior from Owensboro; and Josiah Youngers, a junior from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. Team advisers are Jason Wilson and staff engineer Tyler Baker,

Surveying team members included: Evan Brittenhama freshman from Bowling Green; Nathan Catesa sophomore from Russellville; Keeley McKnighta freshman from Danville; Cheyenne Rogers, a senior from Franklin; and Rob Skipwortha sophomore from Russellville.

Contact: Jason Wilson, jason.wilson@wku.edu


Western Kentucky University prides itself on positioning its students, faculty and staff for long term success. As a student-centered, applied research university, WKU helps students expand on classroom learning by integrating education with real-world applications in the communities we serve. Our hilltop campus is located in Bowling Green, Kentuckywhich was recently named by Reader’s Digest as one of the nicest towns in America, just an hour’s drive from Nashville, Tennessee.


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