Washington, USA, 24 February 2007 – A city of the future – “Mwinda” – engineered by students from St. Thomas More School in Baton Rouge has won the 2007 National Engineers Week Future City Competition.
Teams from 35 middle schools nationwide, winners of regional competitions in January, participated in the Future City National Finals, February 19-22 at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The Future City National Finals was hosted by Bentley Systems, a leading engineering software company, and chair of the competition’s Leadership Council.
Bentley has provided the first prize for the St. Thomas More School 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.
The students – Jake Bowers (12), Emily Ponti (14), and Krisha Sherburne (12) – teamed up with their teacher Shirley Newman, and volunteer engineer mentor Guy Macarios. St. Thomas More was the winner of the Louisiana regional competition held on January 26 in Alexandria.
The St. Thomas More team’s Future City – Mwinda, meaning light in Lingala, a dialect of the Republic of Congo – is a new city in an old land. The mission of Mwinda is to ensure opportunity for a good life by providing power, housing, water, food, and transportation.
Located on the Fimi River near the Equator, Mwinda is in an area necessary to this mission: access to water, proximity to Lake Mai-Ndombe, settlement both on savannah and peripheral forest lands, and availability of rich mineral deposits.
With innovative technology and modern engineering practices, Mwinda has developed an integrated, interdependent industrial design. Using principally renewable energy resources, the city produces excess electricity which it sells to other cities and countries of what has been called the Dark Continent.
In one application, PAFC fuel cells (PAFCs) are powered with hydrogen from phyto-hydrogen generators, genetically enhanced algal cultures which produce hydrogen as a byproduct, and with solar collector hydrogen generators.
A second system, TseTse (mythological African goddess of lightning), uses massive lightning containment capacitors, composed of dielectric glass and conductive metals from waste. Third, the Candu Reactor, powered by raw uranium mined robotically, operates in the industrial zone.
– Second place to Nevada Christian Home School
Second place went to Nevada Christian Home School from Sparks, Nevada for their Future City “ALTA (Alpine Living Tahoe Adventure)”. The Nevada Christian Home School team, which won the Northern Nevada competition held on January 20 in Reno, is comprised of students Cameron Etchart, Ethan Foster, and Ari Henry, teacher Tracy Henry and engineer mentor Pete Etchart.
– Third place: Helen Keller Middle School
Helen Keller Middle School in Royal Oak, Michigan, from the Michigan competition held January 17 in Novi, took third place honors for their Future City, “Mirai.” The team is comprised of Mackenzie MacDormott, Sarah Lewan and Mairi Mundy-Dowd, teacher Donna Tarsavage and engineer mentor Jennifer Partlan.
Future City National Finals teams this year represented public, parochial, private and home schools and were comprised of 55 girls and 50 boys. As varied as the regional winners may be, they all have one thing in common: a program that challenges them to explore engineering, science, math, the arts and writing and, at the same time, discover abilities they never knew they had.
The students created detailed – often fantastic – cities of tomorrow that give intriguing insights to how young minds envision their future. At the same time, their bold designs and innovative concepts provide a refreshingly optimistic appreciation of how our nation can realistically deal with the many challenges facing its cities, including environmental disasters, crime, urban decay and urban sprawl.
“One of the greatest challenges for those of us with engineering at the core of our businesses is securing a talented and diverse workforce for the future,” said Bentley Systems CEO Greg Bentley.
“Our company has joined many others in supporting the National Engineers Week Future City Competition, which captures the attention of students when their choice of courses could have otherwise foreclosed engineering as a pursuit. The combination of engineer-mentors, hands-on learning, and teamwork engages students’ imaginations and interest in engineering.”
John Hofmeister, President of Shell Oil Company, which provides funding to nine regional competitions in addition to the National Finals, says the forward thinking the competition generates benefits the entire profession.
“Shell encourages achievement in technology and engineering,” he notes, “so Future City fits perfectly with our strategy to support promising students as they pursue innovative projects with an underlying emphasis on math and science, extremely important skills for many occupations at Shell. And as the number of graduates in engineering and geosciences diminishes, it’s ever more important to encourage students to build these skills at an early age.”
– About Future City competition
Future City, celebrating its 15th anniversary, 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, California.
They write a city abstract and an essay on using engineering to solve an important social need – this year’s theme is using fuel cells to power a city of the future. Then they present and defend their cities before engineer judges at the competition. Some 30,000 students from more than 1,000 schools participated in 2006-07.
Future City is sponsored in part by Engineers Week, February 18-24, a consortium of more than 100 engineering societies and major corporations, co-chaired in 2007 by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and Tyco Electronics Corporation.
Shell Oil Company is a major contributor to the Future City National Finals and a primary funder of nine regional competitions. The 2007 Essay sponsor is The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE-USA).