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As I was lugging a canoe on my shoulders through the milelong portages of Northern Minnesota’s Boundary Waters last summer, I often marveled at the miracle of modern technology that is the lightweight Kevlar craft. It turns out, however, that not all of America’s brightest canoe engineers are concentrating on forging ever-lighter vessels. Many are working in a medium less orthodox than traditional birchbark or even Boy Scout–favored aluminum: concrete. And in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ and Master Builders’ National Concrete Canoe Competition, outdoorsy eggheads representing engineering schools across the county will do battle in contests of aesthetics, structural integrity, and speed. Soak up the suspense at the competition’s kickoff, part of the National Building Museum’s “Concrete Carnival,” at 10 a.m. at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. $5 (suggested donation). (202) 272-2448. (Mike DeBonis)