Heritage Middle School in Westerville, OH Wins 2008 National Engineers Week Future City Competition

An engineering marvel, the city of RA in the Egyptian desert provides an ideal quality of life for all citizens

Washington, February 20 – A city of the future – “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 was the winner of the Ohio regional competition held on Saturday, January 19 at COSI Columbus.

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

Second place went to Farnsworth Middle School in Guilderland, New York for their Future City, Mohala. The Farnsworth team, which won the Capital District competition held on January 19 at Hudson Valley Community Center in Troy is comprised of students Kathryn Liotta, Hannah Liu and Brien Miceli, teacher Deborah Escobar and engineer mentor James Liotta.

Our Lady Help of Christians School in Abington, Pennsylvania, from the Philadelphia regional competition held January 26 in Villanova took third place honors for their Future City, “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, Florida and fifth place to Queen of Angels Catholic School in Roswell, Georgia. Queen of Angels also won the special award for Best Essay and Westridge Middle School in Shawnee Mission, Kansas won Best Model.

In the words of the Heritage team’s Future City abstract:
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, multi-modal 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 3000TM 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 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 2007-08.

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).

Future City National Finals teams this year represented public, parochial, private and home schools and were comprised of 53 girls and 54 boys. As varied as the regional winners may be, middle school students in the nationwide, not-for-profit engineering education program all have one thing in common: they’re taking a hard look at the future and the main result seems to be a determination to make it better.

Future City poses challenges that intrigue young minds and demand their best. In turn, students are energized about science, technology, and mathematics, laying an early groundwork for a much larger qualified engineering workforce, which is critically needed today.

“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 Bentley Systems CEO Greg Bentley. “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.”

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 is pleased to support Future City because it encourages achievement in technology and engineering at an early age," said Hofmeister. “Future City provides Shell an opportunity to identify promising young students. As Shell continues to seek talent in the areas of math and science, we will continue to look to proven programs such as Future City to help us connect with students with those necessary skills.”

Embracing advanced engineering concepts underscores the rigors of the program as well as the tenacity of the students, says Future City National Director Carol Rieg. “No matter what we give these young people, they consistently rise to the challenge,” she says. “Future City sparks imaginations to see engineering as a critical component of their world and a viable pathway for their own futures.”