Energy Management

Ohio middle school students win Future City Competition


Feb 28, 2008

A city of the future, named "RA," engineered by students from Heritage Middle School in Westerville, Ohio, has won the 2008 National Engineers Week Future City Competition.

The 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. Heritage Middle School was the winner of the Ohio regional competition held Jan. 19 at COSI Columbus.

Teams from 36 middle schools nationwide, winners of regional competitions in January, participated in the Future City National Finals, Feb. 18-20 at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

In the words of the Heritage team’s Future City abstract, the students' describe their city as follows: "Like the glorious temple Amon-Ra, honoring the Egyptian Sun God RA, the ultimate city of the sun rises out of the vast sands of majestic Egypt. An engineering marvel, the city of RA was designed to provide an ideal quality of life for all citizens. 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.

A prosperous economy, progressive research centers, multimodal forms of transportation, unparalleled recreational facilities, a first rate educational system, an environmentally sound energy strategy, as well as the latest in nanotechnological advancements make RA the ultimate paradise."

Future City, celebrating its 16th year, asks middle school students to create cities of the future, first on computer and then in large tabletop models. Working in teams with a teacher and volunteer engineer mentor, students create their cities using the SimCity 3000 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. Some 30,000 students from more than 1,100 schools participated in 2007-2008.

The Future City National Finals is hosted by Bentley Systems, Incorporated, a leading engineering software company, and chair of the competition’s Leadership Council. Bentley also provides the first prize for the Heritage team – a trip to US Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. All regional winning teams received an all-expense-paid trip to Washington for the National Finals.

Future City is sponsored in part by the National Engineers Week Foundation, a coalition comprising more than 75 engineering, professional, and technical societies and more than 50 corporations and government agencies. Engineers Week 2008, February 17-23, is co-chaired by the IBM and the Chinese Institute of Engineers-USA (CIE-USA). Shell Oil Company is a major contributor to the Future City National Finals and a primary funder of nine regional competitions. The 2008 Essay sponsor is The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).