A city of the future – Gongping – engineered by students from St. John Lutheran School in Rochester, Michigan – has won the grand prize at the 2014 Future City Competition. The students – Rebecca Oleskie, 14, Paul Rosa, 13 and Justin Judd, 13 – teamed up with their teacher, Jon Pfund, and volunteer mentor, Linda Gerhardt, Ph.D, an engineer with General Motors in Warren, MI.
Since last fall, 40,000 middle school students from 1,350 schools have been engaged in the 2013-14 Future City Competition. This year’s challenge: Tomorrow’s Transit: Design A Way To Move People In And Around Your City.
Teams from 37 middle schools and organizations, each a winner of intense regional competitions held throughout January, participated in the Future City National Finals, which took place at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC as part of Engineers Week, February 16-20, 2014.
St. John Lutheran School takes home the grand prize of a trip to U.S. Space Camp and $7,500 for its school’s STEM program (provided by National Finals sponsor Bentley Systems). Their city’s transportation solution is based on a model the team researched and developed called Flexible, Accessible, Integrated and Renewable (FAIR). The goal of FAIR is to fit all of those components into one transportation system – hence Gongping, which means ‘fair’ in Chinese.
“It’s awesome to put over 600 hours of work into this project and to see it pay off,” said Justin. “Future City made me understand city planning and how important it is to all of us.”
Rebecca added, “I’ve been competing in Future City for three years and this is my last year of eligibility. So that makes this recognition even more meaningful.”
Second place went to last year’s winning team from Valley Middle School in Oakland, New Jersey for their Future City, which they titled Whenua Aotearoa. The team is comprised of students: Adam Akovity, 14, Nigel DaSilva, 13, and Christopher Leymeister, 14, teacher Judith Vihonski and mentor Robert Akovity of Johnson Controls, from Secaucus, NJ. Valley Middle School receives a $5,000 scholarship for its STEM program, sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE).
HEAR Rockwall, a home school in Rockwall, Texas took third place honors for its Future City, Eisenhower. The team is comprised of Kyle Fletcher, 12, Faith Mitchell,13, and Nicole Bruner,13, teacher Linda Fletcher and mentor Mary Jo Marvin, formerly of Raytheon in Garland, Texas. HEAR Rockwall receives a $2,000 scholarship for its technology program, sponsored by IEEE-USA.
Honorable mentions went to Southwest Middle School in Lawrence, Kansas (Fourth Place), and Girl Scout Troop #2225, from Salida, California (Fifth Place).
Sponsored by the nation’s professional engineering community, Future City, one of the nation’s largest engineering education programs and among the most popular, aims to stir interest in science, technology, engineering and math among young people.
To participate, students must submit a research essay on the competition’s annual theme. While under the guidance of an educator and volunteer mentor, participating students incorporate their ideas to create a virtual Future City model using SimCityT 5 Deluxe Edition software. They are also required to build a physical model using recycled materials valued at no more than $100.
In addition to the winning teams, a number of Special Awards, sponsored by numerous engineering societies and organizations, were also presented.
About Future City Competition
The annual Future City Competition, for sixth, seventh and eighth grade students, is held annually from September to February. The Future City Competition is a program of DiscoverE, a consortium of professional and technical societies and major U.S. corporations. Major funding for the National Finals comes from Bechtel Corporation, Bentley Systems, and the Shell Oil Company.
DiscoverE works year-round to sustain and grow a dynamic engineering profession critical to public health, safety, and welfare. The foundation supports engineering outreach, education, and celebration through 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. The foundation and coalition are actively putting the E in STEM.