A group of NDSU engineering students worked with Ulteig Engineers Inc. employees to build an eight-foot tall hourglass out of canned food for the 2011 Canstruction competition, which helps fight hunger by raising donations of canned food items. The students and Ulteig employees created the structure using more than 1,000 cans of food that were donated to the Great Plains Food Bank in Fargo at the end of the competition.
This year’s event, which was originally slated for last spring before being postponed due to flooding, marked the fifth year for the design-and-build contest. Ulteig reached out to NDSU’s engineering department seeking students to collaborate with, and the American Society of Civil Engineering chapter responded. Andrew Albrecht, an NDSU senior majoring in civil engineering and the chapter’s service chair, said the organization had never participated in the competition before and was excited to be a part of the event.
“We were looking for something fun and something to do to help out in the community,” Albrecht explained. “It was a good experience.”
The hourglass design – symbolizing that it’s time to end hunger – came from Jeff Kale, Ulteig’s senior marketing specialist, but he handed the idea over to Albrecht and the NDSU students to design it. In September, the team practiced building half of the structure to assess its structural integrity and made some tweaks to the design before testing again. On Oct. 15, the team gathered at West Acres Regional Shopping Center to build the structure, a task that took approximately two hours.
“I think (the students) had a good time … they really got into it,” Kale said.
Kale said the team received a donation from N.D. Interior Designers and Ulteig employees, who contributed more than $700 by purchasing “Jeans Day” passes. The combined funds were used to purchase materials, which totaled more than $1,000. Ulteig consistently contributes to the American Society of Civil Engineering chapter’s steel bridge and concrete canoe groups for their annual competitions, so employees were excited to contribute to the Canstruction event, Kale said. Employees could purchase a maximum of 10 passes for $1 each, but most employees gave more than the $10 limit.
Ulteig’s relationship with NDSU extends back to 1928, when Melvin Ulteig graduated with a mechanical engineering degree. Ulteig later was a member of the NDSU Alumni Association board, a position now held by Eric Michel, Ulteig’s current president and CEO.