Sustainable Solutions

About the ASCE Sustainable Solutions Competition

The ASCE Sustainable Solutions Competition challenges students to develop a stronger understanding of sustainability and learn to incorporate sustainable solutions into everyday problems that engineers may encounter. Students are encouraged to be creative in their solutions and use all resources available.

Teams compete at the regional level, and top schools from each regional earn the right to participate in the national competition. ASCE UH is part of the ASCE Region 6 Student Conference. Our Sustainable Solutions Team earned 1st Place in the regional level and advanced to the nationals in 2023!

2024 Problem Statement

The fictional City of ASCE (the City) is well known for its early 20th Century waterfront and manufacturing hub on the Big Brown River to support the budding industrial economy at the time. A decline and abandonment of the riverfront has since occurred as trucking has replaced water-based shipping and the major industrial products (primarily grain and coal-intensive industrial processes) has moved away from the waterfront to more accessible areas.

The City has identified the following project goals:

• Revitalize land-use and economic activity along the waterfront area
• Incorporate waterfront resiliency through Nature-based Solutions (NBS) and
Engineering with Nature (EWN)
• Mitigate existing flooding problems along the waterfront area
• Enhance connections between citizens and water while also considering public
• Recognize the historical significance of the area

Several parcels of the waterfront area have recently undergone revitalization and are starting to attract more visitors and developers. Three adjacent parcels are targeted for redevelopment and revitalization. The old rail line that supported the industrial areas of the waterfront is no longer in use. The railway owner has recently relinquished the local rail spur and right-of-way along the site to the City, connecting other portions of the City along the rail corridor to the waterfront area. 

The Design

The design of the canoe is a fundamental aspect of the competition. Each year ASCE provides a set of rules that outline requirements and restrictions for design and construction of the canoe. Past guidelines have included limitations on things like canoe dimensions, canoe weight, and types of construction materials. In some years specific minimum percentages of recycled materials have been required. Minimum compressive, tensile, and flexural strengths have also been specified for some competitions.

The Competition

The competition includes scoring in four categories: design paper, oral presentation, final product, and racing.

Design Paper

The design paper is the formulation of all the work and research completed and compiled into a technical ten page paper. Ingenuity, uniqueness of design, and research are aspects that are discussed in the paper, along with required information on the composition of the concrete mix used in the canoe.

Oral Presentation

Multiple team members participate in the five minute oral presentation on the canoe design and construction process. Multimedia effects and video clips are used to make the presentations as professional and informative as possible. After the presentation there is a question and answer period where the judges can question the team members on any aspect of the concrete design and manufacturing processes.

Final Product

The final product part of the competition is where the quality of workmanship, finish, aesthetics, and theme for the canoe are judged. A poster display and a cross-section showing interim construction stages are also judged in this part of the competition.


The specific canoe races used in past competitions have varied, but both sprints and endurance races are typical. There are generally races with women paddlers only, men only, and both women and men paddlers. The race courses are laid out with buoys and scoring is based on the time required to complete the race.

The Experience

The concrete canoe competition is an exciting way to apply classroom concepts to a hands-on project and to form lasting friendships with fellow engineering students. Together you work to solve a real world problem and get to see the project come to life from the initial design on paper, through the construction process, and then finally to racing the final product. You don’t have to be an expert in concrete or engineering design, just come and be ready to learn and to get your hands dirty!

If you are a student interested in becoming a sustainable solutions team member, we would LOVE for you to get involved! Contact one of our UH Chapter Officers for more information!

ASCE National Sustainable Solutions Competition Website Here