Middle School Students to Design Affordable Housing in Future City Competition

Chicagoland's 2009 Winning Team from Winnetka Middle School. Photo: National

Chicagoland's 2009 Winning Team from Winnetka Middle School. Photo courtesy: FutureCityChicago.org

The National Engineers Week Foundation’s 2009–10 Future City Competition is an opportunity for bright middle school kids to use their creativity, and their math and science skills to solve a very real problem: providing an affordable living space for people who have lost their hoe due to a disaster or financial emergency. While the following press release is targeted to the Chicago area, schools around the U.S. are encouraged to participate. The competition begins in September, but the organization invites schools to sign up now. — Julia Wasson, Publisher

WASHINGTON DC, June 2009 – Designing affordable housing for those most in need is enormously complicated. But how to do it while adhering to LEED recognized green building standards, with an emphasis on energy efficiency and a low carbon footprint?

That’s the challenge for Chicagoland middle schoolers as they prepare for National Engineers Week Foundation’s 2009-10 Future City® Competition.

Now entering its 18th year, Future City Competition invites seventh and eighth graders nationwide to create the cities of tomorrow and encourages interest in science, technology, engineering and math through hands-on applications.

“Future City motivates students to learn more about the possibilities and opportunities for careers in engineering,” said Leslie Collins, Executive Director, National Engineers Week Foundation. “As they participate in the competition, they realize that engineering is exciting and creative and that they can use what they know to make a difference in the world. Helping young people discover what the field has to offer is a critical step in insuring that the engineering profession continues to grow in the years ahead.”

Themed Providing An Affordable Living Space For People Who Have Lost Their Home Due to a Disaster or Financial Emergency, this year’s Future City Competition will attract more than 33,000 students from 1,100 middle schools in regions located across the country. Participating students will be asked to design a model of their city using SimCity 4 Deluxe software, provided by Electronic Arts, and then build a physical model of the city using recycled materials. They will also write a research essay describing their design and a second narrative outlining the key features of their city.

Finalists are required to present their design, and explain their city before an panel of judges and in front of an audience. Photo courtesy: FutureCityChicago.org

Finalists are required to present their design, and explain their city before an panel of judges and in front of an audience. Photo courtesy: FutureCityChicago.org

The regional competition gets underway with the new school year in September and culminates with the regional finals in January. One winning team from each region qualifies for a trip to the national finals in Washington DC, which will take place during Engineers Week, February 15-17, 2010. The National Finals Grand Prize winners receive a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, provided by National Finals host Bentley Systems, Incorporated. The second and third prize winners receive $5,000 and $2,000 scholarships for their schools’ technology programs.

“We learned that engineering is more than just making sure that buildings work the way they are supposed to,” commented Tom Krajnak, 14, a member of the 2009 Grand Prize winning team from Bexley Middle School in Bexley, Ohio. “Engineers are involved in every aspect of building a city. We discovered how necessary they are and now we know the reasons why.”

Registration deadline for schools nationwide is October 31, 2009 but, to help students get an early start before the close of the current school year, Future City is offering early registration to interested students. Future City is also looking for professional engineers (and architects) who may be interested in serving as mentors. For information, school registration, or to volunteer in the Future City Competition, visit www.futurecity.org.

About Future City Competition

The 18th Annual Future City Competition, for seventh and eighth grade students, is held from September, 2009 through February, 2010. The National Future City Competition is sponsored in part by the National Engineers Week Foundation, a consortium of professional and technical societies and major U.S. corporations. Major funding comes from Bentley Systems, Incorporated, Ford Motor Company and Shell.

About Engineers Week

The National Engineers Week Foundation, a formal coalition of more than 100 professional societies, major corporations and government agencies, is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers among young students and by promoting pre-college literacy in math and science. Engineers Week also raises public understanding and appreciation of engineers‘ contributions to society. Founded in 1951, it is among the oldest of America’s professional outreach efforts. Co-chairs for 2010 are ExxonMobil Corporation and the American Society of Civil Engineers.