Ohio School's RA Wins Future City Contest

A city of the future – "RA" – engineered by students from Heritage Middle School in Westerville, Ohio, has won the 2008National Engineers Week Future City Competition™. The contest was held in Washington D.C., Feb. 18-20.

Heritage Middle School students – Glen Gainer, Emma Henderson, and Jeremy Boyd, all age 13 – teamed up with their teacher Debra Pellington, and volunteer mentor, Ted Beidler, P.E., from Franklin County Engineers. As winners, the team will receive a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala.

In the competition, middle school students create cities of the future, first on computer and then in large tabletop models. Working in teams with a teacher and volunteer engineer mentor, they create their cities using the SimCity 3000TM videogame donated to all participating schools by Electronic Arts, Inc. of Redwood City, Calif. They write a city abstract and an essay on using engineering to solve an important social need – this year's essay asked students to describe how nanotechnology will monitor their city's structures and systems to keep its infrastructure healthy. Then they present and defend their cities before engineer judges at the competition.

The Heritage Middle School team set their city in Egypt and took advantage of all types of renewable energy.

According to the team's abstract: "A flourishing economy is evident in the revolutionary mixed-use Green Living Modules (GLM) and the state-of-the-art EIRS 3000 Educational System. The EIRS provides interactive learning experiences utilizing the latest in educational intercommunication, the Nanosence Glove.

"Energy engineers employ a five-point energy system to maximize energy efficiency throughout RA. The use of flexible solar panels, sprayable solar cells, and desert solar farms harness the sun's energy to the fullest potential. Hydropower in the Nile River and Mediterranean Sea regions, biomass, wind farms and Ewind Towers, located on the upper levels of commercial and industrial structures, all provide renewable power options. Finally, nanoparticles produce hydrogen through photoelectrochemical hydrogen production, completing a clean energy picture.

"'Solar cell' phones and holographic image converters provide citizens wireless communication options. Energy engineers have also applied solar technology in the production of pure water through the innovative NanoPure Water System. In conjunction with cost-effective nanocatalysts, solar power successfully treats wastewater."

Second place went to Farnsworth Middle School in Guilderland, N.Y., for Mohala. The Farnsworth team is comprised of students Kathryn Liotta, Hannah Liu, and Brien Miceli, teacher Deborah Escobar and engineer mentor James Liotta.

Third place went to Our Lady Help of Christians School in Abington, Pa., for Port Tranquility. The team is comprised of Paul Gennaro, Kiersten Moore, and Maura Nolan, teacher Jane Ring and engineer mentor Julie Gennaro.

Fourth place went to Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and fifth place to Queen of Angels Catholic School in Roswell, Ga. Queen of Angels also won the special award for best essay and Westridge Middle School in Shawnee Mission, Kan., won best model.

The Future City National Finals is hosted by Bentley Systems, Inc., a leading engineering software company, and chair of the competition's Leadership Council. This year's teams this year represented public, parochial, private and home schools and were comprised of 53 girls and 54 boys.

"Part of our responsibility as industry leaders lies in developing the talented and diverse workforce who will be designing the world's infrastructure in the future," says Greg Bentley, Bentley Systems chief executive officer. "We’ve joined with many others who support the National Engineers Week Future City Competition because of its unique ability for inspiring students to consider career choices that might otherwise have overlooked engineering. The combination of engineer mentors, hands-on learning, and teamwork engages students and opens the door to endless possibilities for them and the engineering profession."