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Contact: Sheryl Weinstein
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New Jersey Institute of Technology

Miracle at Cook's Pond: NJIT takes first place at Concrete Canoe Competition

Some two dozen civil engineering students at NJIT were thrilled last Sunday as they took first place in the 2012 Concrete Canoe Competition for the New York metropolitan region. This was NJIT's first year in the race following a long hiatus and students spent months designing, fund-raising and building their own concrete canoes. Sunday's event at Denville's Cook's Pond was the final event—a competitive race to see how the boats held up under pressure. NJIT hosted the event.

And win the race the students did remarkably between raindrops and cheers. Guiding them to victory was the able leadership of Captain Rocco Cerami, of Belleville and lead rowers Steve George, of Wharton and Allison Lapatka, of Boonton with help from rowers Tim Straut, of Bayville and Kristina Ippolito, of Staten Island, NY.

"It was such a wonderful afternoon," exclaimed student chair Shu Yi Tham, Lawrenceville. Tham put together not only the logistics managing the NJIT team, but also the structure enabling the competition to move ahead as smoothly as it did with nine other participating universities. "After more than six months of planning and organizing, I was so thrilled to see how well everything was put together and how this event was able to turn out so smoothly. I was mostly concerned about the weather on the day of the competition. Nevertheless, it all worked!"

Taking bows for leadership and skill were construction lead Eric Miranda, Clark, mix design lead Mario Correia, Hackettstown and analysis lead Jared Armena, Toms River.

The competition offers a hands-on, practical experience to build leadership skills and knowledge while working with concrete mix designs. The American Society of Civil Engineers has sponsored the competition nationally since the 1970s. There were 18 qualifying competitions like this one throughout the nation. Now NJIT will travel to the national meet this June in Nevada. Academic scholarships totaling $9,000 will be awarded to the winning teams' undergraduate civil engineering program. Learn more: http://www.asce.org/concretecanoe/ The national winner travels to an international competition.

"We love competing in events like this because it's a hands-on learning experience and that's what our applied engineering program is about. Learning while doing. Experiences like these are memorable. Students not only have fun, but they walk away thinking these are my best college moments. It doesn't get any better than this," said NJIT Civil Engineering Professor John Schuring.

Schuring was advisor to this competition, which NJIT returned to only this year following a decade-long hiatus. Schuring spent the weekend also advising another group of NJIT civil engineering students who competed in and won for the seventh year in a row the Metropolitan Regional Steel Bridge Competition held the day before this event.

"For these kinds of events students work round-the-clock for months designing, then building the structure whether it's a boat or a bridge," he said. "It is an incredible commitment and we couldn't be prouder."

Tham added that she was so grateful for the efforts of so many people helping make the event what it was. "Conference Advisor, Dr. Schuring, and the judges were so well prepared for the weather. They had everything under control. We also benefitted from a terrific team of volunteer judges: Anthony Massari was the lead judge. Other judges were Thornton Tomasetti and Brian DeBaun, of The Louis Berger Group and Tai Luu, of Moretrench American Corp.

"We also couldn't have done what we did without the help of NJIT's Allyn Luke, the volunteer safety person. The Denville Fire Department did an amazing job keeping an eye on students to ensure safety. It never would have been as successful as it was without the help of these volunteers."

Students who had helped with everything from design to building included: Anthony DeZenzo, Parsippany; Carmelo Bruzzesi, Palisades Park; Corina Serrani, Lebanon. Other team members were: Jennifer Ramos and Kevin Alvernaz, Newark. Helping out too were Joe Halmi, Sayreville; Nicolas Gomez, Union; Terence Dicorcia, Rochelle Park. Toni-Anne Struyk, Toms River and Zach Marinelli, Lake Hiawatha, also served the team.


NJIT, New Jersey's science and technology university, enrolls more than 9,558 students pursuing bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 120 programs. The university consists of six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, College of Architecture and Design, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, College of Computing Sciences and Albert Dorman Honors College. U.S. News & World Report's 2011 Annual Guide to America's Best Colleges ranked NJIT in the top tier of national research universities. NJIT is internationally recognized for being at the edge in knowledge in architecture, applied mathematics, wireless communications and networking, solar physics, advanced engineered particulate materials, nanotechnology, neural engineering and e-learning. Many courses and certificate programs, as well as graduate degrees, are available online through the Division of Continuing Professional Education.