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Construction student group donates canned goods to Bearcats Pantry after project canceled due to COVID-19

Students give nearly 3,000 cans to UC food pantry after city-wide Canstruction event is canceled

Much has been closed or canceled due to the global spread of COVID-19 as health officials implore people to avoid gathering in groups and limit time outside of their homes in an effort to slow the spread of the novel virus. As the University of Cincinnati transitions to remote instruction for the remainder of the semester, the Construction Student Association halted a project for the now-canceled Cincinnati Canstruction event and opted to help out their fellow UC students in the process. 

Bearcat 3D model

The Construction Student Association at UC planned to create a Bearcat structure from canned goods, shown here in the 3D model.

Canstruction is a community service project to benefit community food banks. Locally, teams of architects, engineers, designers and contractors compete to design and build structures made entirely of canned goods. The creative projects are displayed throughout downtown Cincinnati as an art exhibit. The canned goods are later donated to emergency feeding programs. 

UC’s Construction Student Association had already designed and begun work on a massive Bearcat that they planned to craft from 4,700 canned goods. At the time of the event’s cancellation, the students had already purchased 2,898 cans for the project, with help from their sponsors: Marathon Petroleum, Pepper Construction, Sevan Multi-Site Solutions, Women in Transportation Service, and American Society of Highway Engineers. 

With the event called off, the students decided to donate the nearly 3,000 canned goods already purchased for the project to the Bearcats Pantry, which assists UC students facing food insecurity. Although university housing and dining facilities are closing amidst the COVID-19 precautionary measures, the pantry will continue to distribute food during the semester by appointment.

canned goods

Canned goods were purchased before Canstruction was canceled. Photo/provided.

“While we may no longer be able to build and showoff the structure to the public, the main purpose of the event is to help support the less fortunate in our community. With the uncertainty of what’s to come, the community needs the help more than ever,” said Emily Shawen and Nick Klein, construction management students and co-leaders of the UC Canstruction team, in an email.  

Although they won’t be able to bring their idea to life this year, the students can look ahead to the future of the friendly competition. The Construction Student Association participates annually in Canstruction. To prepare, the UC team met weekly beginning in September. Once the design concept was determined, Andrew Bush, a UC architectural engineering student, developed the 3D model. The students carved and cut plywood boards to go between each layer of cans. The structure’s color must be displayed using only the labels of the cans themselves, and cannot be painted, or wrapped.

The cans are selected for their color and size to fit into the design. It just so happens that the cans formed a well-balanced meal this year, said Mandy Albrecht, faculty advisor for the group and assistant dean of academics of the UC College of Engineering and Applied Science. The donated food included 800 cans of soup, 370 cans of potatoes, 360 cans of corn and 1,368 cans of green beans.

Featured image at top: Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash.