As Urban Flooding, Rising Sea Levels And Super Storms Dominate The Headlines, Middle Schoolers From Across America Innovate Solutions
Nation’s Most Talented Sixth, Seventh And Eighth Graders Prepare To Present Their Ideas At Annual Future City Competition
Over the past weeks and months, graphic images of disastrous flood waters cascading through some of our most densely populated urban areas have dominated the news. Stories of rising sea levels and super storms have become daily must reads. With these increasingly common weather events as a backdrop, middle schoolers from across the U.S. have been working to develop their own creative, surprising and highly innovative solutions to combat unchecked water runoff.
Since last fall, more than 35,000 students from 2,200 teams in 36 regions throughout the country have participated in the annual National Engineers Week Future City Competition. With a theme of Rethink Runoff: Design Clean Solutions to Manage Stormwater Pollution, each team has pooled its talents to design clean solutions to stormwater pollution.
In January, each region held qualifying competitions to select the team that will represent its area in the Future City Competition National Finals. Now, those finalists have been named and the winners are preparing to travel to Washington DC for the National Finals, to be held at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, VA, on February 16-19, 2013 during National Engineers Week.
“Reducing stormwater pollution requires innovative approaches and America’s students are incredibly creative and talented,” said Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator for Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Innovative solutions to stormwater runoff not only reduce pollution, but also provide many community benefits including increased economic activity and neighborhood revitalization, job creation, energy savings and increased open space. EPA is excited to work with Future City this year to engage students across the country in tackling one of the toughest challenges to clean water and to show them the opportunities in environmental careers.”
Future City, sponsored by the nation’s professional engineering community, has received national attention and acclaim for its role in encouraging middle schoolers nationwide to develop their interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Future City teams have had the opportunity to attend and present their cities of the future at the White House Science Fair. Through hands-on applications, Future City participants discover by doing how engineering is both accessible and can make a difference in the world.
As they have addressed their stormwater solutions, students have had to consider the safety, cost, efficiency, and appearance of their ideas. During this process they have learned about the engineering disciplines that encompass their solution, including learning and identifying the steps of the design process.
Students must submit a research essay on this year’s theme. They are required to analyze the most damaging effects of extreme weather and are tasked with imagining and designing innovative ways to manage stormwater that make city landscapes act similar to natural landscapes. While under the guidance of an educator and volunteer mentor, participating students will incorporate their ideas to create a virtual Future City model using SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition software*. They have also built a physical model using recycled materials valued at no more than $100.
“SimCity has been an active supporter of the Future City Competition for twenty years,” said SVP and GM of Maxis, Lucy Bradshaw. “We believe that video games can make learning more engaging and is part of the cultural language that defines today’s youth. Simulation games, like our SimCity franchise, encourage players of all ages to make decisions and see the consequences of their actions through the cities they create.”
The grand prize winners of the National Finals will receive a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, provided by Bentley Systems, Incorporated, a long-time sponsor of the Future City National Finals and the leading company dedicated to providing comprehensive software solutions for the infrastructure that sustains our world. Major funding for the national finals also comes from Shell Oil Company. Additional program funding comes from TE and the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.
Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems, says, “This year’s challenge is particularly timely given the massive flooding that has occurred in 2012 in so many parts of the globe. Provide resilience to such devastation through the design and construction of better-performing, intelligent infrastructure is what engineers do to protect the world’s life-sustaining potable water supplies. Having these bright young students come up with similarly rigorous solutions to a problem they know to be very real is a great way to inspire them to pursue a career in engineering – so that they, too, can make a difference in the quality of life for people around the world.”
“Future City has, once again, brought forth an important issue for students to address,” adds Debra Stewart, Director, Supplier Diversity, Workforce Development & Diversity Outreach, Shell Oil Company. “The Rethink Runoff project will not only allow students to utilize science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts, but it will also promote critical and innovative thinking skills. We believe it is important to continually engage and encourage STEM education to help arm the future scientists and leaders with the necessary knowledge needed to help our country and global community. Shell is proud to be part of the Future City 2012-2013 competition.”
*SimCity is a registered trademark of Electronic Arts Inc.
For more information, visit www.futurecity.org.
About Future City Competition
The Annual National Engineers Week Foundation’s Future City Competition, for sixth, seventh and eighth grade students, is held from September, 2012 through February, 2013. The Future City Competition is a program of National Engineers Week Foundation (NEWF), a consortium of professional and technical societies and major U.S. corporations.
About National Engineers Week Foundation
The National Engineers Week Foundation 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. For more information, visit www.eweek.org.
SOURCE: National Engineers Week Foundation