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Building with Food

January 22, 2011

As you may or may not know, I’m a structural engineer.  And we like to build stuff, especially out of “unique” materials, such as food! 

Just before Christmas, we had a competition at work called “GingerBuild”, where we form teams and make a structure out of entirely edible materials.  The structure must be “inspired” by a project that our company has worked on.  My team (made up of all women) decided to build a replicate of the Haystack Observatory, which is a giant telescope out at the Lincoln Lab. 


The base is made of rice krispies surrounded by gingerbread.  The dish is also made of gingerbread.  The post and the focal arms are made of candy canes.  The trusses are spaghetti attached with melted caramel.  The tic tacs represent the finite element analysis results of the dish. 

We did not win the corporate competition (which came with 8 hours of vacation, something I could definitely use), but we won the CEO’s award.  That means that our name is on the GingerBuild Trophy!

After our success with gingerbuild, a coworker asked us to help with an idea he had for a retiring coworker.  Insert our culvert cake!


Now this cake is not entirely edible.  The culverts were made using aluminum disposable baking pans.  We cut them up and shaped them into half cylinders.  The cake was then baked upside down to create the culvert indentations.  Also, the truck is NOT edible.  It was purchased at Toys ‘R Us.  But we are very proud of how it turned out.  Especially given that it only took one night to bake and a second to decorate and assemble.


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