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Engineering Students Will Mentor High School Students During Canstruction® March 22nd at U of M

For release: March 12, 2013
For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901-678-2843

The West Tennessee Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), in partnership with the University of Memphis and Christian Brothers University ASCE student chapters and the Herff College of Engineering, will sponsor the 2013 Canstruction® competition March 22 at the University of Memphis.

The competition will be held on the U of M’s Student Plaza, beginning at 8 a.m.  Students will work on their structures until noon.  They will remain on display until about 3 p.m., when the cans will be picked up for delivery to the Food Bank.  In case of rain, the competition will be moved to the lobby of the Rose Theater, adjacent to the Student Plaza.

The 12 competing teams are from Bartlett High School, Collierville High School, Concord Academy, Harding Academy, Kingsbury High School, Memphis University School, Millington High School, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School, Ridgeway High School, St. Agnes Academy, St. Benedict at Auburndale High School, and White Station High School.

Each high school team is paired with a professional civil engineer and a civil engineering student to act as mentors. These mentors are typically ASCE members. The teams can call on their mentors for help with their design ideas.  The West TN ASCE Branch solicits sponsorships from local engineering firms to provide the initial cash donation for the purchase of cans used in the designs. Once the teams submit a design proposal, the funds are distributed.

Because this year’s is the largest competition to date, students from STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) student organizations at the U of M will also help with the event.  The STEM student organizations will hold a canned food drive on campus the week prior to the event, and will serve as assistants during the competition.

On the day of the competition, each team is allowed to have five students building at one time, and they have three hours to complete the project. Structures are generally judged by ASCE members.

Before the announcement of the winners, local ASCE members discuss civil engineering with the teams. The presentations include examples of different types of projects that civil engineers design.

Canstruction® is a unique competition with multiple benefits.  It showcases the excitement of the civil engineering field to high school students while helping feed hungry people. The students are responsible for the design and construction of giant sculptures made entirely out of canned foods. At the close of the competition, all the food used in the structures is donated to the Mid-South Food Bank for distribution to pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, and elder-care and daycare centers.

This will be the seventh year that the West TN ASCE has organized Canstruction®. To date, more than 70,000 pounds of food have been donated to the Memphis Food Bank through this event.   This year’s competition will also be part of the U of M’s contribution to the Million Meals Challenge in support of the Mid-South Food Bank.


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