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UTEP Team Wins People’s Choice Award in ‘Canstruction’ Competition

A team of civil engineering students from The University of Texas at El Paso won the People’s Choice award in the El Paso Canstruction Competition.

The team was made up of more than 20 students from the United States Green Building Council Student Chapter and the American Society of Civil Engineers. Ivonne Santiago, Ph.D., clinical professor of civil engineering, led the team. They raised money to purchase the cans by reaching out to the El Paso community and businesses.

CanstructionIn a few short weeks, students were able to raise $2,500 to purchase the 2,869 cans that made up their structure. The team then spent six hours building their structure, which was on display after the competition at Sunland Park Mall.

“We wanted to raise awareness of hunger in El Paso,” Santiago said. “In the United States, the food insecurity is at 15.4 percent, but in Texas, it’s higher than the average at 17 percent. I think that sometimes we don’t see those closest to home that are suffering from hunger.”

The Canstruction Competition had been held locally in the past, but this was the first year the competition was held in conjunction with the national Canstruction Campaign. The Canstruction Competition was developed in 1992 by Cheri Melillo, creator and editor of the New York prize-winning publication “SkyLines” and the national public relations chair for the Society for Design Administration.

Melillo developed Canstruction as a way to bring the design community together to compete in friendly competitions while also giving back to the community.

Each year, architects, engineers, contractors and the students they mentor come together and compete to design and build giant structures made entirely from full cans of food. At the end of the competition, all of the food is donated to local food banks.

This year, teams from El Paso Community College; EXIGO Architects; Nine Degrees Architecture and Design Inc.; Parkhill, Smith & Cooper; PhiloWilke Partnership; Texas Tech University; Walter P. Moore and Associates; and UTEP came together to compete and donate food to the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank.

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