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16 years in the Rocket City and going strong

Sonya Dillard, the Regional Coordinator for Future City Competition’s Alabama region, is entering her 16th year of involvement with the program. Sonya first became involved in Future City as an engineering mentor in 2000.

In 2000, the school that Sonya mentored for the competition had to compete at a different regional, as Alabama did not have its own.  After the competition, Sonya realized that Alabama must have a regional competition, and that it should probably be in Huntsville, since the ‘Rocket City’ has the highest per capita concentration of engineers in the country. Sonya led a group to add an Alabama region and also stepped up to become the Regional Coordinator. In January of 2001, Huntsville hosted Alabama’s first competition.

Over the years, Sonya has seen many designs and ideas in the students’ cities, including hover transportation systems, teleportation systems, green environmentally controlled sanitation systems, and telekinesis communication systems.  “There is no doubt in my mind that several of these ideas will be patented by the year 2041. Our Future City kids are absolutely AMAZING!” Sonya said when referring to the projects she has seen over the years.

Last year, Sonya’s wildest dreams came true. “I thought I would fall right there on the floor when they called out ALABAMA as the 2016 Nationals Finals Grand Prize winners! As they played, 'Sweet Home Alabama' in the loud speakers as we walked to the stage, I was crying like a baby,” Sonya recalled. 

Sonya (second from right) with the 2016 winning team from Alabama and representatives from Bentley Systems, Inc.

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