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TCC Engineering Club produces another winner and nabs VCCS honor

The idea started with Frank Dixon, and he passes the credit onto his wife, Carolyn.

“She’s pretty much a Snoopy nut,” says the vice president of TCC’s Engineering Club. “I mean, who doesn’t like Snoopy?”

Hence, the creation of TCC’s entry into this year’s Canstruction event, a design-and-build competition whose ultimate mission is to feed the hungry.

The TCC Engineering Club designed the can-made piece titled “Missing Supper” that features Snoopy resting atop his doghouse in the familiar pose that Charles Schulz made so famous. The construction, comprised of 6,400 cans and 8,000 dry goods, stood 7 feet tall while on exhibit at Selden Arcade. TCC won top honors in the “Best Meal” category, as all those cans added up to a real meal.

The cans included macaroni and cheese, chicken and pasta sauce. The TCC students also used pesto packets for the green grass and black olives for Snoopy’s nose. His ears were made from packs of gum. All of the food, which was donated by Farm Fresh, winds up at the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia where it is distributed to those in need within 48 hours.

The Engineering Club had six hours to build the project and had to work around a glitch – they were about 1,000 cans short of what club members had anticipated. They also generally receive the cans in advance, allowing them to practice “can-structing,” but this year, the first build turned out to be the final build.

“From a logistical standpoint, it was difficult,” said Dixon, who designed the layout for the structure on a CADD program.

“We didn’t get the cans until the day of,” said club secretary Kathryn Hart. “But we made it fun.”

Regular participants recognized in Canstruction, the Engineering Club also received a recent honor from the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). The club won the Student Initiative Award at the recent VCCS student conference in Roanoke (TCC’s Computer Club finished second). The Engineering Club was recognized for best service project stemming from last year’s Canstruction: a two-layer cake with a slice cut out under the theme “Take a Bite out of Hunger.” Weighing 10,000 pounds, the finished product used 11,800 cans and incorporated the Foodbank logo.

The Engineering Club also participates in various other service projects and competitions. At present, Dixon is busy designing and launching a rocket. Club members also reach out to middle and high school students in Hampton Roads, reminding them to consider STEM-related careers.

Anyone can join the club, which meets weekly at the Virginia Beach Campus.

Emrys Scott-Murrell, in his first semester at TCC, said the best thing he did was join the Engineering Club, noting, “If there’s one club you’re going to join at TCC, this should be the one.”