Tonica Students Build with Food:  First Construct - I Can at IVCC

A suspension bridge, house complete with pool, and five-foot rocket constructed of cans and boxes of food.

Those were among the structures designed and built by junior high school students in an engineering technology project sponsored by Illinois Valley Community College on March 18.

Entitled Construct – I Can, the project immersed 32 seventh and eighth grade students from Tonica in the creativity and teamwork of engineering technology careers

Utilizing cans and boxes of food donated by HyVee, WalMart, Target, Jewel, and the Zonta Club, the students worked in teams developing a design for a structure and then building it.



"This exercise is related to our exploring careers class," said Tonica teacher Shannon Marcinkus who accompanied the students to the IVCC campus. The students had been exploring engineering careers, which included hearing from area engineers.

Construct – I Can was created by IVCC Professor Dorene Perez, program coordinator of Computer-Aided Design/Computer Aided engineering, as a part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant she directs.

"We want young people to experience what its like to be an engineering designer, to experience the applications of engineering," Perez said.

IVCC is receiving $520,000 over three years from the NSF to increase interest in engineering careers with a special focus on careers available from two-year degrees.

Construct – I Can was coordinated by Jim Gibson, IVCC Program Coordinator of Electronics; and by Jeanette Maurice, a Senior Personnel on the NSF grant and the Work-Based Learning Coordinator for the Partnerships for College and Career Success (PCCS) Program.

IVCC engineering technology students, including members of the Leadership Team, assisted with the event.

The project also has a community service focus. The 935 pounds of food items collected to build the structures has been donated to the Illinois Valley Food Pantry. Pantry officials Donna Hess, executive director, and Rose Marie Lynch, board president, attended the Construct – I Can event.

Perez said the idea for Construct – I Can came from a nation-wide competition organized by the Society for Design Administration called Canstruction. Engineers, architects and students create complex structures from food cans that are donated to food banks and soup cans.

Further information about Construct – I Can is available from Perez at 815-224-0221.