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Students use 5 tons of cans to build a train and tunnel for annual Foodbank contest

NORFOLK, Va. (Nov. 20, 2009) – Tidewater Community College won a top award – Juror’s Choice – for this year’s Canstruction, an engineering competition that raises awareness about hunger and brings in large food donations for the area Foodbank. TCC also won for the most cans used, a new award honoring one of the contest’s founding members. The awards were announced at an evening celebration, Nov. 19.

TCC’s Engineering Club used more than 11,286 cans (almost 5 tons) to build their entry which reflected the theme, “Stop Hunger in its Tracks.” The structure featured a train coming out of a large, arched tunnel, and included lights and sound. Motion sensors, which activate when visitors step near the structure, illuminate the train headlight and crossing lights, as well as the sounds of a train whistle.

 “The massive tunnel has a 5-foot opening with a self-supporting keyed arch, a challenging engineering structure to build,” says Paul Gordy, TCC Engineering Program head and faculty advisor of the Engineering Club. “We spent three weeks practicing in the ATC (Advanced Technology Center), before the real build.”

Despite the nor’easter, TCC’s 20-member team worked for six hours to create the structure in a 10̍ by 10̍ space on Nov. 11 at Selden Arcade in Norfolk. “This is the 11th consecutive year that we’ve been involved in Canstruction,” adds Gordy. “It’s great to be part of something that helps the community and provides a learning opportunity for students.”

Created in 1992 and now held in 65 United States cities, Canstruction combines the competitive spirit of a design/build contest with a unique way to feed the hungry. After the creations are judged and exhibited for two weeks, the food goes to a local food bank.


Laurie White

Tidewater Community College - the largest provider of higher education and Workforce Solutions services in Hampton Roads - will serve a projected 47,000 students in 2009-10. The 15th highest associate-degree producer in the nation, TCC offers more than 150 programs including business administration, culinary arts, general studies, modeling & simulation, network security, nursing, and automotive technology. Among the fastest-growing two-year institutions in the United States, TCC was founded in 1968 as a part of the Virginia Community College System. The college serves the South Hampton Roads region with campuses in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach as well as the TCC Jeanne and George Roper Performing Arts Center in Norfolk’s theater district, the Visual Arts Center in Olde Towne Portsmouth, the Regional Automotive Center in Chesapeake, and the Advanced Technology Center in Virginia Beach. Forty-six percent of the region’s residents attending a college or university in Virginia last fall were enrolled at TCC. For more information, visit