Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

CANstruction a Creative Outlet for Tickle College of Engineering Faculty, Students

Pikachu CANstructionA team of faculty and students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Tickle College of Engineering displayed a true can-do effort this holiday season as they engaged in a friendly competition that collected food for the needy.

The “CANstruction” competition brought together teams throughout the area in a contest to see who could build the most elaborate displays out of canned goods. The regional round took place last week and, although UT’s team failed to advance, their effort will benefit many people around the Knoxville area.

At the conclusion of the contest, which involved 13 teams, more than 51,000 cans of food were donated to Second Harvest Food Bank. That haul was so impressive that Messer Construction, which sponsored the event, had to send for a second truck to collect all of donations.

CANstruction is a national competition that began in New York City in 1992 and has since helped donate 40 million pounds of food to food banks in cities around the world.

Jenny Retherford, a lecturer in civil and environmental engineering, said UT’s engineering team has participated in the regional CANstruction competition each year since it began in 2013.

“Our team actually began making the plan for this year back in August,” she said. “It’s a neat way to get everyone involved in giving back while at the same time making art while utilizing some design skills and programs.”

The UT team’s design was based on Pikachu, the main character from Pokémon, with a Santa Claus cap. It took about 3,000 cans of food to build the model based on CAD designs using their lab equipment.

Other team designs included Minions, Elf on a Shelf, and even an homage to the Vol Navy. The team representing Bush Beans, BarberMcMurry Architects, and Civil and Environmental Consultants contributed the most cans—more than 10,000.