With this week’s 2016 ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition at the University of Texas at Tyler, Oscar Antommattei returns to his roots.
Nearly two decades after taking part in Concrete Canoe as a participant and finding the spark that set him on his current career path, Antommatei, P.E., M.ASCE, will be a competition judge for the first time.
“I’m really excited,” Antommattei said. “I’ve always thought that would be pretty cool to come back and be on the other side and be judging the students who are doing these amazing works.”
The NCCC is the culmination of nearly a year of work for ASCE Student Chapters from around the world. Twenty-one teams advanced through this spring’s regional competitions to compete for the national title.
Concrete Canoe first caught Antommattei’s eye when he was an undergraduate student at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.
“As a young student, you’re trying to find direction and things that spark your interest because civil engineering is so broad,” Antommattei said. “When I saw Concrete Canoe, I thought, ‘That’s pretty cool. Let me see what that’s all about.”
Antommattei got very interested in making good concrete – making a canoe that was both lightweight and strong. He joined the materials side and helped the team to three straight Top 5 finishes at the ASCE Southeast Regionals.
He went on to get his master’s at Clemson University and now works as a senior concrete engineer for Kiewit in Englewood, CO.
“It really gave me the direction to get more involved in the study of concrete technology and concrete applications and concrete development,” Antommattei said. “And look, it’s my career now. Concrete Canoe really made my career.”
Thursday, as the teams walked across the UT-Tyler campus, weighing and testing their canoes, and nervously preparing for the judges’ questions, Antommattei could marvel at how far both his career and the competition have come in the years since he was in college.
“There have been tons of changes through the years,” Antommattei said. “The specs keep getting more complex. They really challenge the group of students. It’s in line with how we see field operations and projects in the industry.
“The students have evolved, getting to specific applications, better materials, better performing canoes. I’m just excited to be able to participate in judging this group of very smart, talented students.”