Hopewell High ‘CANstructs’ to first place

by Tori Hamby

A group of Hopewell High School students placed first at the Architecture, Construction and Engineering Mentor Program of Charlotte’s CANstruction competition on Nov. 19. (Courtesy of Hopewell High School)

Young architects and engineers from Hopewell High School took home the top prize at a local competition that asked students to create an innovative, freestanding structure using unconventional building materials – aluminum cans.

The Charlotte chapter of the national Architecture, Construction and Engineering Mentor Program of America, Inc. hosted its annual CANstruction contest at Discovery Place Nov. 19. Students from Myers Park High, South Mecklenburg High, East Mecklenburg High, West Charlotte High and Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology also participated in the event that required teams to build a creative structure with canned foods. Following the competition, all canned foods were donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina.

“It was a great way to learn about construction and design, and in the end it helped a lot of people,” said Hopewell High team member Jaylon Alexander. Through this year’s event, the organization donated 3,676 pounds of food to Second Harvest.

For the fifth year, the mentor program’s Charlotte chapter raised money that each team used to purchase its own cans for the competition, working with a $500 budget. The young architects could use Velcro, high-tension rubber bands, nylon string and wire to help create their structures, but tape, which could destroy the can’s label making the item ineligible for donation, was prohibited.

Hopewell High’s design, titled “HOPE-we’ll all Help,” illustrated the equation “money + food + effort + time = love.” Although judges’ scores based on the creativity of theme, artistic representation, structural design and integrity, use of the can’s labels and the nutritional value of the foods used remained close, the Titans pulled away from their competition after coming in first-place in the People’s Choice category.

Jaylon, a 10th-grader, said he learned him the importance of improvisation and coming up with quick solutions to problems his team hadn’t previously considered.

“It helped me learn that things might seem easy on paper, but a lot of things might happen that you didn’t originally account for,” said Jaylon, who plans to one day pursue a career in green technology. “You have to be ready to change at a moment’s notice. We ended up figuring it out, but it was pretty hard to practice without the cans.”

The ACE Mentor Program of Charlotte allows mentors in the architectural, construction and engineering industries to help high school students explore career opportunities and foster the next generation’s group of construction managers, architects and engineers. Each school’s ACE group meets after school for 15 two-hour sessions throughout the school year.

Go online to www.acementor.org/611 for more information.

CANstruction team members

The Hopewell High School ACE Mentor Program’s team members were: Jaylon Alexander, Carla Bailey, Ameer Desilva, Erin Furgason, Jose Garcia, Eli Greear, Meredith McSwain, Madison Melton, Brandon Mork, Omar Nunez, Nick Patel, Rikev Patel, Rishaan Patel, Joe Pereira, Michael Schuring, Ivan Serrano, Daniel Shaner, Jeffrey Swyers, Kristhel Torre and Mitchell Weir.

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