UC Students Build an Excavator out of Canned Goods – Then Donate It

By:    Brandon Pytel
Date: April 25, 2018

The UC chapter of Construction Student Association competed against local construction and design firms in the 21st Annual Canstruction. The chapter won the People’s Choice Award for their excavator design.

The Canstruction team poses with canned goods excavator.

The CSA Canstruction team won the 2018 People's Choice Award for their excavator design.

A big part of the engineering experience at the University of Cincinnati (UC) happens outside of the classroom. That might be through cooperative education (co-op), research or even the annual Canstruction competition.

Canstruction is a partnership between the design and construction industry and foodbanks. Industry professionals, as well as students, compete against each other to construct life-sized structures made entirely out of canned goods.

Each year, Cincinnati hosts Canstruction downtown. Once the teams build their structures, they leave them on display for several days for viewing and judging. Afterwards, the teams donate the canned goods to local foodbanks. According to the Cincinnati Canstruction website, the competition has contributed 817,000 pounds of food (or 681,000 meals) to the Freestore Foodbank.

The UC chapter of Construction Student Association impressed again this year with their excavator design, Can UC Us Dig It, which won the People’s Choice Award.

“It’s an awesome feeling seeing so many Bearcats willing to donate their time for such a great cause,” said Michael Salzler, captain of the UC team.

The UC chapter has been involved in Canstruction since 2013. Salzler sees it as a great way to give back to the community, while providing younger students with an opportunity to get involved outside of the classroom. This year, over 60 students played a role in the competition.

Several architectural engineering students initially drafted a design using SketchUp, a 3D modeling program. Team members then brainstormed how they would execute the design. Finally, they bought the supplies (or cans) they needed and went downtown to build it. 

“To start with thoughts thrown on a white board and end with a finished structure downtown is an amazing sight,” said Salzler. “The whole process was a blast.”

Canstruction gives College of Engineering and Applied Science students the opportunity to use their engineering skills to give back to the community. Even though it takes time and energy, in the end, said Salzler, it’s more than worth it.

The 2018 UC Canstruction team consisted of Michael Salzler (captain), Mitch Rice, Emily Shawen, Phillip Stoll, Kaikou Uchiyama and Nathan Volker.