By Shamala Pulugurtha, A.K.O.M. Writer and Researcher
Future City Designers
Quotes of the Month:
“Our goal was to create a city of the future based on real world applications. Our city could be built today on technologies that already work or are prototypes.”
Ruth Swallow, Age 13
Future City Competition Winner
“This competition has taken engineering to an entirely new level and enabled us to see engineering as a career. As we have made scientific discoveries, it is no longer about what things are but instead it becomes about how things work. That was a huge leap.”
Emily Hue, Age 13
Future City Competition Winner
“To my peers, I would like to say thank you for all of their support. I would also like to encourage them to join Future Cities because I think it is a great experience.”
Luke Churchill, Age 13
Future City Competition Winner
“The creativity, teamwork and commitment of these young minds is a valuable and renewable resource, and Bentley is proud to do its part to develop this resource by opening the eyes of these middle school students to the rewarding possibilities of a career in engineering.”
Greg Bentley, CEO, Bentley Systems, participating sponsor,
National Engineers Week Future City Competition
April 2010 Amazing Kids! Of the Month:
According to the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment, the average science score of U.S. students lagged behind those in 16 of 30 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group that represents the world’s richest countries. The U.S. students were further behind in math, trailing their counterparts in 23 countries.
In the midst of these reports of lagging performances in science and math, and the relatively low percentage of today’s graduating seniors considering careers in engineering and technology, the National Engineers Week annual Future City® Competition stands out as a unique way to inspire America’s middle school students to explore the possibilities of a career in engineering: by challenging them to combine the use of futuristic concepts with solid, proven engineering practices to design a city of the future.
This year’s amazing Future City winners, Luke Churchill, Emily Yue and Ruth Swallow, are 13-year-old middle school students from Davidson IB (International Baccalaureate) Middle School in Davidson, North Carolina. Together, they worked diligently and creatively to create ‘Mamohatra’, a city of the future which is eco-friendly and provides affordable housing to people who have lost their home due to a disaster or a financial crisis.
If you have ever dreamed of creating a place where people would be free from some of the problems often found in today’s cities, then this story is for you! Perhaps it will inspire you to not only think about your own future, but to take action to help design the future world you’d like to live in. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even be inspired to get your friends to create your own Future City team and design a future city for next year’s competition!
The Future City Competition
The Future City Competition, now celebrating its 18th year, is an educational engineering program for seventh and eighth-grade students combining a “stimulating engineering challenge with a ‘hands-on’ application to present their vision of a city of the future.” Participants have an opportunity to explore multiple disciplines of the engineering profession while learning engineering and other important related skills, such as teamwork, communication and problem solving.
The Future City Competition is held each year by the National Engineers Week Foundation, a formal coalition of more than 100 professional societies, major corporations and government agencies dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing the interest in engineering and technology careers among young students.
“Part of our responsibility as industry leaders lies in developing the talented and diverse workforce who will be designing the world’s infrastructure in the future,” says Greg Bentley, the CEO of Bentley Systems – one of the co-operate sponsors of the competition. “Bentley’s long standing sponsorship of National Engineers Week Future City Competition is part of our corporate mission of ‘Sustaining Infrastructure’, and in particular, sustaining the professions that design and build the world’s infrastructure, which, now more than ever, is seen as essential to sustaining both our economy and our environment. The creativity, teamwork and commitment of these young minds is a valuable and renewable resource, and Bentley is proud to do its part to develop this resource by opening the eyes of these middle school students to the rewarding possibilities of a career in engineering.”
This Year’s Event
This year’s theme for the competition was providing an affordable living space for people who have lost their home due to a disaster or financial emergency. To participate in the contest, the students had to create affordable homes for people who were facing a disaster or a financial crisis, and were earning only 50%-80% of the media income of the surrounding city. The living space had to be sustainable and energy efficient
with a low-carbon footprint
The 18th Annual National Engineers Week Future City® Competition started in last Fall, with more than 33,000 students from 1,100 middle schools in 39 regions across the United States participating. The qualifying competitions for each region were held in January. The finals were held this past February 13-16 at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C.
The grand prize winning city of the future, “Mamohatra” was announced at the finals. Mamohatra was engineered by three 13 year old students, Luke Churchill, Emily Yue, and Ruth Swallow, from Davidson IB Middle School in Davidson, North Carolina.
The 2010 Winners: Amazing Young Future City Engineers
According to their winning essay, Mamohatra “combined futuristic technologies, green principles, and cultural diversity to create a thriving, sustainable metropolis on the island of Madagascar.”
Ruth Swallow describes the team’s vision for the project: “Our goal was to create a city of the future based on real world applications. Our city could be built today on technologies that already work or are prototypes. That practical aspect gives us a clear vision for how we, as future engineers, could have a positive impact on today’s world. This competition is not just an exercise – its reality.”
In order to design and build a city of tomorrow, Ruth, Luke and Emily worked as a team under the guidance of their teacher Jay Durant Hager and mentor, Dane Horna, an engineer with S&ME, Inc. in Charlotte, North Carolina. They first designed the cities on a computer using the SimCity™ 4 Deluxe
software and then build a three-dimensional, tabletop model to scale. To ensure a level playing field, all models had to be made out of recycled materials and had to cost less than $100 to build. They also had to write a brief narrative describing their project and had to present and defend their designs at the competition before a panel of engineer judges who test the depth of the teams’ knowledge.
“This competition has taken engineering to an entirely new level and enabled us to see engineering as a career,” added teammate Emily Yue. “As we have made scientific discoveries, it is no longer about what things are, but instead it becomes about how things work. That was a huge leap.”
The experience has been educational in several ways for each of the participants. Apart from learning about new avenues in the field of engineering, the students have also learned about teamwork, problem solving, persistence and success.
Luke, Emily and Ruth each want to pursue a career in engineering and believe that the Future City competition has provided them with the right platform to do that. “I’ve always wanted to be an engineer, even though I wasn’t quite sure what an engineer was,” admits Luke. “When I was little I wanted to be a mechanical engineer because I wanted to design tanks. I joined this competition because I wanted to improve on my teamwork skills, problem solving skills, and learning skills. I also wanted to know what it would be like to actually be an engineer. This competition was definitely worth it,” he adds.
Amazing Kids! congratulates these amazing and inspiring young engineers. We know the future is very bright indeed, knowing there are such talented future city designers like Luke, Emily and Ruth in our midst! Keep up the amazing work, team!
Fun engineering and science websites for students:
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