Lehigh University
Lehigh University


A can-do spirit goes on display

Sai Lu Mon Aung ’10 applies the finishing touch to last year’s “Canstruction” extravaganza while a student from Broughal Middle School looks on…

Growing up in Chelsea, Maine, Mike Hodsdon ‘10 realized before he could even drive a car that he wanted to study engineering in college.

When he started investigating schools, RPI, MIT, Penn State and Lehigh popped up on Hodsdon’s radar. After a teacher sang Lehigh’s praises, Hodsdon mentioned Lehigh to his parents—and something funny happened.

“My dad’s best friend from work was a Lehigh industrial engineering grad from the 1980s,” said Hodsdon. After a conversation or two with Henry Hall ‘83, Hodsdon visited South Mountain and fell in love with Lehigh.

Hodsdon is now an electrical engineering major and president of the Rossin Junior Fellows (RJF), a student-leadership organization in the engineering college that mentors first-year engineers and serves as ambassadors to prospective students.

He hopes this week’s “Canstruction” event inspires Bethlehem kids to become future engineers.

Canstruction in the Lehigh Valley is a competition among teams that design and build large structures with cans of food.

“Bowling” for future engineers

On Friday, March 26, teams of RJF members and students from South Bethlehem’s Broughal Middle School will “CANstruct” creations including Philadelphia’s Love Statue, a rocket and “Bowling Down Hunger,” a globe knocking down bowling pins. The event begins at 12:30 p.m. at Broughal and is open to the public.

The Broughal students helped brainstorm the project and watched Lehigh students use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create workable designs.

“Working with the Broughal kids is always refreshing,” says Hodsdon. “Their energy and excitement is amazing. If we go more than a few days without seeing them they ask their teacher about the next time they get to work with us.

“It’s a testament to their desire to learn about building things and engineering in general.”

More than 100 groups in the United States and Canada participate each year in Canstruction, which was founded 18 years ago by the Society for Design Administration and the American Institute of Architects.

“Canstruction gives Lehigh students the opportunity to bring their enthusiasm to the community and it allows the younger students to experience the excitement of engineering,” says David Wu, dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science.

“Activities like this help Lehigh students encourage middle-schoolers to consider science and engineering as a career path.”

The Canstruction project was funded by a core competency grant from Lehigh’s Office of Student Affairs.

It has another benefit. The creations will be on display at Broughal until April 9, when all 3,500 cans used in the event will be donated to the New Bethany Ministries food bank in Bethlehem.

The Rossin Junior Fellows asked businesses to support Canstruction. Some gave money, some donated food and some sold cans at a discount. This year’s sponsors are Shop-Rite Inc., Redner’s Warehouse Markets, Keystone Consulting Engineers Inc., AMEC Earth and Environmental Inc., George A. Krallis, Hensel Phelps Construction Co. and Langan Engineering and Environmental Services.

Story by Bill Doherty

Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2010

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