Van Essendelft joins Concrete Canoe Team; canoe floated to second place finish

Published 10:09 pm Saturday, May 25, 2013

SCHOOL NEWS_WC 779_Van Essendelft joins Concrete Canoe Team with PHOTO web

From News Release

SIOUX CENTER, IA — Thaddeus Van Essendelft of Pantego was part of Dordt College’s concrete canoe team that floated to a third-place victory at the annual regional Concrete Canoe Competition held by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) at the University of Wisconsin in Platteville, Wisconsin.
Van Essendelft is a junior majoring in engineering. He served on the administration committee.
The team also took second place at the annual Concrete Canoe Competition held by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The regional competition was held Friday and Saturday, April 19 and 20, at the University of Minnesota-Mankato.
The Concrete Canoe Competition gives students an opportunity to work on a real-world engineering project that provides opportunities for management, teamwork, design and construction.
Moving up in the ranks can be attributed to several factors, including the innovative ways the team recycled and saved on water usage during the curing process, the decrease of waste and cost by reusing foam and molds from previous years, and the success of this year’s paper.
The team took first place for their paper, a score that rose from 7th and 5th place in previous years. The paper is worth 25 percent of the team’s final score.
“I think the success in the paper shows that the team this year did a very good job of building off of and learning from the work of the past two years,” said Engineering Professor Justin Vander Werff, who has served as the faculty advisor in the past two years, and this year answered questions while on sabbatical working toward his Ph.D. “It also points to excellent organization and teamwork.” This year’s advisors were engineering faculty Joel Sikkema and Danielle Wyenberg.
“Compared to other years, there were a lot of people who came to watch. We are very excited about how awareness of the canoe project has grown,” said Dordt junior Andrew Deelstra, who has competed in all three years. “We are especially looking forward to the future, when the competition will be held at Dordt in 2015. We hope that will draw an even bigger crowd.”
Seven teams competed in this year’s competition including Dordt, University of Iowa, South Dakota State University, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, University of Minnesota-Duluth, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and Minnesota State University-Mankato.
The Greek word Koinonia means “fellowship,” and this year’s canoe is an example of student fellowship and teamwork contributing to the success of the project. “Dordt’s team emphasized the spectrum of campus involvement, ranging from the participation of art majors in the design of the canoe to the campus-wide naming of the canoe,” said Dr. Douglas De Boer, Dordt College professor of engineering. De Boer noted that the judges seemed impressed by the degree of campus involvement.
The competition was divided into four parts, the design paper, an oral presentation, the display setup and the racing portion. The canoe, named The Kernel, brought the team to a third-place finish in the women’s endurance and men’s sprint competitions, and a first-place finish for the second year in a row in the oral presentation category.
“This year’s competition made us realize the importance of paddling practice. Although we did decently in some races, it was tricky to get the steering down,” wrote co-captains Benjamin Hofland and Anna Jefferson. “This is partly due to the fact that we had only one paddling practice the weekend before the competition, but also because the bow of the canoe was not symmetrical which caused difficulties in steering. So next year we plan to get out on the water more often to practice paddling, and we plan to change or enhance the hull design.”
The Kernel takes its name from the Sioux Center, Iowa, rich tradition and history of farming. “The circles and stripes along the side of the canoe were added to suggest the presence of kernels, as in an ear of corn,” they added.
Last year was the first time a Dordt team participated in the competition, and they placed fifth overall. This year was their first opportunity to race, though, because last year’s weather was judged too dangerous for racing.
“This project has improved significantly since our first year, as seen by The Kernel’s weight of 202.5 pounds-about half the weight of last year’s canoe, The Cannon,” said Hofland and Jefferson.
Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, is a comprehensive Christian college rooted in the Reformed tradition. U.S. News & World Report,, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review all list Dordt on their best colleges lists. Dordt is home to approximately 1,400 students. To learn more about Dordt College, visit