Engineers Week Nurtures Next Generation

Engineers Week Nurtures Next Generation

Future Waste: The Grand Prize winner of the 2016 Future City® Competition was engineered by students from the Academy for Science and Foreign Language in Huntsville AL. From left, teacher Angela Traylor, Isabel Waring,12, Hannah White,14, Alexa Huerta,13, and volunteer mentor Raymond Woodson, a retired aeronautical engineer.

Future Waste: The Grand Prize winner of the 2016 Future City® Competition was engineered by students from the Academy for Science and Foreign Language in Huntsville AL. From left, teacher Angela TraylorIsabel Waring,12, Hannah White,14, Alexa Huerta,13, and volunteer mentor Raymond Woodson, a retired aeronautical engineer.

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by JOHN GREGERSON | Feb 23, 2016

It's never too soon to start thinking about the future, particularly the future of cities, given the challenges they all now face. Three middle schoolers who may live in those cities, gave the issue some thought and won big for their efforts.

As part of this year's annual Engineers Week, extending from Feb 21-27, students with the Academy for Science and Foreign Language in Huntsville AL, won the grand prize for the 2016 Future City® Competition, awarded Feb 16 in Washington DC. This year's theme: Waste Not, Want Not. The task: Design waste management systems of the future.

The winning students – Isabel Waring,12, Hannah White,14 and Alexa Huerta,13 – teamed with teacher Angela Traylor and volunteer mentor Raymond Woodson, a retired aeronautical engineer -- to earn the the prize. Their winning entry was called Villa Suave and it featured pieces of jewelry, test tubes, hair dryer parts, and other recycled materials. All combined to conjure a future with urban transit and energy powered by recycled waste and other recaptured resources. The team won a trip to U.S. Space Camp (ironically in Huntsville AL). Their school receives $7,500, thanks to the support of big-name sponsors like Bechtel, BoeingShell, CH2M, and Bentley Systems.  (For more info, visit www.futurecity.org.)

Villa Suave: What, no salt shakers? The winning entry won kudos from the judges for its transportation system.

Villa Suave: What, no salt shakers? The winning entry won kudos from the judges for its transportation system.

“I learned so much about engineering,” gushed young Waring. "If anyone asks me if they should compete in Future City, I’d say: ‘Do it!'"

Many have. In all, some 40,000 middle school students from 1,300 schools participated in this year's competition. Following regional run offs, finalists were narrowed to teams from from 37 middle schools and organizations.

To participate, student teams work with an educator and engineer mentor, employing SimCity software to develop a virtual city that addresses a sustainable design issue. Teams then craft a description of their findings and solutions and construct a scale model of their city made of recycled material for purposes of presentation.

Also for E-Week

FutureCity is just one of several events allied with Engineers Week, celebrating its 65th anniversary this year. Sponsored by DiscoverE, a volunteer organization supported by more than 100 professional societies, major corporations and government agencies worldwide, Engineers Week seeks to celebrate the contributions of engineers worldwide, generate public dialogue about the need for engineers, and bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents.

In addition to Future Cities, this years roster of events includes Girl Day, Global Day of the Engineer and DiscoverE Family Day. Another event, DiscoverE's Awards and Recognition program, “recognizes the outstanding talents, skills and abilities of our next generation of engineering leaders (age 30 or younger) have shown on projects that significantly impact public welfare or further professional development and growth.” That event also honors educators in grades six through 12 classrooms and the engineering achievements of college students.

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