DENVER — From flood to drought and biting cold to blistering heat, extreme weather is increasingly prevalent throughout the world. Politicians, academics and engineers are working to do their part to manage this issue and reduce the effect of climate change. Starting this fall, middle schoolers from across the country, participating in National Engineers Week Foundation’s 2012-2013 Future City Competition, will act as engineering leaders to develop their own solutions to combat the devastating effect of flooding after prolonged drought, which is often brought on by these severe weather events.
The registration deadline for schools nationwide is Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012. Future City is also looking for engineering and technical professionals who may be interested in serving as mentors. For information, school registration, or to volunteer, visit www.futurecity.org.
The 2012-2013 Future City Competition is expected to attract more than 35,000 students from various middle schools in regions located across the country. The annual challenge 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). Through hands on applications, Future City participants discover how engineering is both accessible and can make a difference in the world. Sixth, seventh and eighth graders are eligible to take part in the competition.
Students will begin by submitting a research essay describing their solutions for this year’s theme — Rethink Runoff: Design Clean Solutions to Manage Stormwater Pollution.
As students analyze the most damaging effects of extreme weather, they will imagine and design new and creative ways to manage stormwater that make city landscapes act more like natural landscapes. Using SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition software, participating students will work with an educator and volunteer mentor to design a virtual Future City model incorporating their ideas. Then they will build a physical model using recycled materials which can cost no more than $100 to build.
As each team addresses its stormwater runoff solutions, students will consider the safety, cost, efficiency and appearance of their ideas. They will also learn about the engineering disciplines that encompass their solutions, including learning and identifying the steps of the design process.
Global engineering firm CH2M HILL is actively supporting Future City through mentors and sponsorship of regional competitions in Georgia, Ohio, and New York City. Brian Marengo, CH2M HILL Global Technology Leader for Watershed Services says, “Future City encourages students to take a holistic and collaborative approach to creative problem solving to address some of the most critical challenges facing our world. We are excited to be teaming with Future City to help engage students across the country in developing solutions and are excited to see their out-of-the box thinking come to fruition through their designs and city models. Mentoring a team of bright, innovative students is an incredibly rewarding experience and we at CH2M HILL encourage our clients and partners to consider making a difference by volunteering with Future City—especially those stormwater professionals who can help increase understanding and incite enthusiasm for the profession by putting this year’s Rethink Runoff theme into context.” Marengo also shared his stormwater expertise and real-life examples of how cities are managing stormwater during a webinar for teachers and students.
Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems, a sponsor of the national Future City Competition for the past 14 years, says, “This year’s challenge is particularly timely given the massive flooding that occurred early 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.”