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Design mistake leads to design career

Current 3M employee and 2002 Future City Competition participant Jo Etter, was inspired to join Future City by her English teacher at Minnesota’s Chippawa Middle School. That year the theme was energy sources for powering cities. “Getting an intro to the different types of engineering helped shape my career path even though I didn’t realize it at the time,” says Jo. 

Future City was Jo’s first experience designing to scale. While creating a miniature school for her team's model, she overlooked what seemed to be a small detail but as a result, the school piece ended up being larger than the other pieces on the model. After Jo redesigned the school, however, she took a special interest in the model’s aesthetics. “Not only did the redesign of the model pay off when we won the Minnesota regionals, the skills I learned during the Future City Competition have proven to be vital to me as a mechanical engineer on 3M’s design team.”

If there is one piece of advice that Jo has for Future City participants, it is to “get out of your comfort zone, and try all of roles within the group!” Through working with her group and presenting at Future City, Jo learned that the groups where everyone speaks up are not only more successful, but learn more about themselves in the process. Take Jo’s team for example - they went on to win Nationals that year!

Pictured above: Jo's Future City team in 2002

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