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'Future City' student competition deadline nears

'Future City' student competition deadline nears

Nation’s 6th, 7th and 8th Graders Explore Urban Agriculture As They Tackle This Year’s Theme, 'Feeding Future Cities'

by Michelle Addo

Many experts now predict that, in the coming decades, the Earth’s arable land will no longer be sufficient to produce enough food for the planet’s growing population. At the same time, nearly all of the world’s population growth between now and 2030 will be concentrated in urban areas. With these two critical concerns converging, farming in and around cities will be essential to feeding the world’s population. The urban agriculture movement is one of the most important solutions to the urgent effort to ensure that the global community has access to fresh, affordable and healthy food.

With this highly topical issue in mind, registration for the 2014-2015 Future City® Competition, a program of DiscoverE, is about to end on Oct. 31. The Future City Competition is a national, project-based learning experience where students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade will imagine, design, and build cities of the future.

This year’s theme is Feeding Future Cities and it encourages students to explore today’s urban agriculture, from aeroponic systems for roof top farms to recycled gray water to the sustainability-driven farm-to-table movement, and develop a futuristic solution to growing crops within the confines of their city. Teams from 37 regions will present their ideas before judges at Regional Competitions in January. Winners will represent their regions at the National Finals in Washington, DC in February.

REIGNING CHAMPS: The 2013-14 competition was won last February by students from St. John Lutheran School in Rochester, Michigan. Their city?  'Gongping', which means 'fair' in Chinese.

REIGNING CHAMPS: The 2013-14 competition was won last February by students from St. John Lutheran School in Rochester, Michigan. Their city?  'Gongping', which means 'fair' in Chinese.

Working in a team with an educator and engineer mentor, students are challenged to design a virtual city using SimCity™ software. They will research today’s urban farms and write an essay describing their solution to feeding their citizens. Students then bring their ideas to life by building a tabletop scale model of their city using recycled materials on a budget of $100 or less and write a brief narrative promoting their city.

Major funding for the National Finals comes from Shell Oil Company, Bentley Systems and Bechtel Corporation.

Michael Alvarez, Manager of Shell’s Workforce Development, sponsor of DiscoverE’s Future City® Competition, said, “There’s no better way to encourage young people to take on the issues of tomorrow headfirst than by asking them to tap into their creativity, inventiveness, and passion. We applaud Future City in its continued efforts to give young people the opportunity to experience the sense of accomplishment and reward that ‘STEM-based’ careers can offer!”

Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems, a sponsor of the Future City® Competition for the past 19 years, said, “We primarily accomplish our mission of sustaining infrastructure – which in turn sustains our economy and environment – by providing engineers with their professional software. But we recognize that it is equally important to sustain their professions by encouraging young students to pursue careers in the infrastructure disciplines. The highly engaging Future City Competition experience provides just such encouragement by pitting the enthusiasm, determination, and innovative minds of young people against relevant, real-world engineering challenges.”

Over 40,000 students, representing 1,350 schools, take part in the Future City® Competition. The deadline to register is October 31, 2014. Register today or learn more at Visit the Facebook page for more information and updates on the Future City® Competition.

Click here to download and print pdf version.

About DiscoverE: The mission of DiscoverE is to sustain and grow a dynamic engineering profession through outreach, education, celebration and volunteerism. DiscoverE supports a network of thousands of volunteers in its partner coalition of more than 100 professional societies, major corporations and government agencies. Together we meet a vital need: introducing students, parents, and educators to engineering, engaging them in hands-on engineering experiences and making science and math relevant. For more information, visit

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