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Canstruction 2017

Civil Engineers Build Canstruction for Second Harvest

A team of faculty and students from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering “Canstructed” a sight to behold this holiday season as they participated in a friendly and spirited competition.

The “Canstruction” competition brought together teams throughout the Knoxville area in a contest to see who could build the most elaborate structures out of canned goods, all for one purpose—fighting hunger.

Jenny Retherford, a lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental engineering and the facilitator for this year’s team, said UT’s has participated in the regional Canstruction competition each year since it began in 2013.

"press me," Canstruction 2017
“press me,” Canstruction 2017

UT’s design was a “CANpetition Christmas House,” covered in lights that blinked when visitors pressed an indicated green button. The team started planning for the event in August, and it took around nine hours to actually build the structure.

Other team designs included structures such as “Silent Night, Jedi Knight,” “Dance the Horah for our CANorah,” and “Miracle on Gay Street.”

Sponsored by Messer Construction Company, the contest benefits Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.

With the donation of an estimated 50,000 cans, “Second Harvest Food Bank will continue to make an impact on the lives who need it most in our region this holiday season,” said Randy Fields, business development director for Messer.

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

The “Knoxville Holiday Canstruction Exhibit” is now open to the public at the Knoxville Convention Center until December 13.

Go check out these works of art for yourself and be sure to vote for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s structure at

Voting ends Wednesday, December 6, at midnight.

Canstruction street view
Canstruction street view