My title

Top teams preview tomorrow's engineering

Top teams preview tomorrow's engineering

by  DOUG SCOTT, ASCE news | Feb 24, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC (February 19, 2015) -- Designing a futuristic city that incorporates a sustainable engineering system to help grow crops in urban settings to better feed the community earned three students from Harding Middle School in Cedar Rapids, IA, this year’s ASCE Most Innovative Design of Infrastructure award. The city, named Juelra, took the honor at DiscoverE’s annual Future City Competition National Finals held February 14-18.

ASCE Pres. Robert Stevens (top left) presents Harding Middle School students, teacher and mentor with the award for Most Innovative Design of Infrastructure. Photo: DiscoverE

ASCE Pres. Robert Stevens (top left) presents Harding Middle School students, teacher and mentor with the award for Most Innovative Design of InfrastructurePhoto: DiscoverE

“Each of the 37 teams made a tremendous impression, and we were pleased to recognize the team from Harding Middle School,” says ASCE Executive Director Thomas W. Smith III, ENV SP, CAE, M.ASCE, who judged the Society award along with Charles Griffith, P.E., M.ASCE, project manager at Whitney, Bailey, Cox & Magnani LLC. “They had an excellent understanding of civil engineering, enthusiastically answered our questions about what civil engineers do and the impact civil engineering has on our quality of life, and incorporated innovative, sustainable infrastructure design systems into their plans.”

Feeding Future Cities: Like winning entry "Juelra", all teams focused on accelerating the growth of urban agriculture.

Feeding Future Cities: Like winning entry "Juelra", all teams focused on accelerating the growth of urban agriculture.

The Future City Competition, which is celebrating its 22nd year, is a national, project-based learning experience where students in grades 6-8 design and build cities of the future. Teams of at least three students, together with a teacher and engineer mentor, plan cities of the future by first researching and then writing an essay explaining their solution to an engineering problem. This year’s topic was “Feeding Future Cities,” and it challenged students to explore today’s urban agriculture, from aeroponic systems for rooftop farms, to recycled gray water, to the sustainability-driven farm-to-table movement.

The goal was to develop a futuristic solution to growing crops within the confines of their city. Using SimCity Deluxe Edition software, the teams built a tabletop scale model using recycled materials valued at no more than $100; anything from discarded soda bottles to old shoeboxes. 

Maybe I Can Do This When I Go to College

“I was so impressed by the presentations that the 6th- through 8th-graders made and the models they built of a future city focused on urban production of food,” says ASCE President Robert D. Stevens, Ph.D. P.E., F.ASCE, who was a member of one of the six preliminary judging teams for the overall competition. “It’s amazing how well-prepared the students were and how much they understood about engineering. It was particularly exciting to hear a number of the teams state how important the work of civil engineers is. The students clearly gained a much greater understanding of the important work that we do to help provide the facilities that the public depends upon.”

Since last fall, 40,000 middle school students from 1,350 schools have been engaged in the Future City Competition. Teams from 37 middle schools and organizations, each a winner of intense regional competitions held throughout January, participated in the national finals this year.

Judges Charles Griffith (left) and ASCE Executive Director Thomas W. Smith interview competing students during the competition. Photo: DiscoverE

Judges Charles Griffith (left) and ASCE Executive Director Thomas W. Smith interview competing students during the competition. Photo: DiscoverE

Eighth-grade Harding Middle School students Julia Schulte, Shelby Olson, and Sara Zaiser worked under the guidance of their teacher, Shannon Haas, and volunteer engineer mentor Gary Bishop, P.E., M.ASCE, an engineer for the County of Appanoose, Iowa. The students said that after receiving the ASCE award and experiencing the Future City Competition, they are now looking forward to taking more engineering and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) classes in school. The girls, who visited Washington DC for the first time, added that winning the ASCE award is something they will remember for a long time.

These bright, motivated students renewed our optimism for the future of civil engineering.
— ASCE Executive Director Thomas Smith

Iowa Future City Regional Coordinator Jean Oberbrockling said competing at the Future City Competition allowed students to learn the many skills needed to become an engineer. 

“They learned how to problem-solve... (and) how to make decisions, and that’s a STEM initiative in the State of Iowa,” she says. “When they graduate from high school, they will think about their experiences in Future City and think, 'Maybe I can do this when I go to college'.”

Back to back titles: For the second year in a row, the team from St. John Lutheran School in Rochester MI was the overall first-prize national winner of the 2015 Future City Competition. Photo: DiscoverE

Back to back titles: For the second year in a row, the team from St. John Lutheran School in Rochester MI was the overall first-prize national winner of the 2015 Future City Competition. Photo: DiscoverE

Getting the Young Interested in Engineering

For the second consecutive year, the overall first-prize National Winner of the Future City Competition went to a team of three from St. John Lutheran School in Rochester, MI. For the design of their city of the future, Lekol-la-fre, students Leah Schroeder, Emily Abramczyk, and Abby Dayton won a trip to the U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, AL, and $7,500 for their school’s STEM program, sponsored by Bentley Systems, Inc. The students worked under the direction of their teacher, Jon Pfund, and volunteer mentor Linda Gerhardt, Ph.D.

“The most memorable part of our Future City experience was how we bonded with each other,” said Dayton. “There were stressful days but we stayed bonded and held each other up.”  

Second place went to West Ridge Middle School, Austin, TX, for their Future City, Aquatopolis. For their efforts, the school received a $5,000 scholarship for its STEM program, sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers.

The Academy for Science and Foreign Language, from Huntsville, AL, took third-place honors for its Future City, Era Verd, and was presented a $2,000 scholarship for its STEM program, sponsored by IEEE-USA.

Honorable mentions went to Linda Fletcher’s HEART of Science Cooperative from Rockwall, TX, for their city Minato, and Queen of Angels Regional Catholic School in in Philadelphia, PA, for their city Aresvita. Each received $750 for their STEM programs, sponsored by Ohio University and CH2M Hill.

Stevens concluded, “Future City does a fantastic job at getting many students at an early age interested in engineering. I was honored to serve as a judge.”

For more information about the competition, or to volunteer, visit http://futurecity.org 

Google+ Google+