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Exploring Urban Agriculture

Nation’s Most Talented Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Graders Prepare to Present Their Solutions as They Tackle This Year’s Theme, Feeding Future Cities at Annual Future City® Competition National Finals.

Washington DC, February 16, 2015 – Many experts now predict that, in the coming decades, the Earth’s arable land will no longer be sufficient to produce enough food for the planet’s growing population.  At the same time, nearly all of the world’s population growth between now and 2030 will be concentrated in urban areas. With these two critical concerns converging, urban agriculture will be essential to feeding the world’s population. Future City puts its student competitors in real world situations and asks them to be the problem solvers as they brainstorm ideas and design solutions.  

Since last fall, 40,000 middle school students from 1,350 schools in 37 national regions, as well as a new region in China, have imagined, designed and built cities for the 2014-2015 Future City® Competition. This year’s theme, Feeding Future Cities, encourages students to explore sustainable solutions to ensure that the global communities of the future will continue to have access to fresh, affordable and healthy food.

In January, each region held qualifying competitions to select the team that will represent its area in the Future City Competition National Finals. Now, those finalists have been selected and the winners are preparing to travel to Washington, DC for the National Finals, to be held at the Capital Hilton on Capitol Hill, February 15-18, 2015, in preparation for Engineers Week. Hosted by Deysi Melgar, co-host of PBS’ “Design Squad Nation” and featuring former Senior White House Advisor for Nutrition Policy and Let’s Move! Executive Director Sam Kass as a judge, the fierce competition takes place over four days and results in one team taking home the grand prize of a trip to U.S. Space Camp and $7,500 for their school’s STEM program (provided by National Finals sponsor Bentley Systems).

Future City has been proven to deliver on its educational promise. In 2013-14, Concord Evaluation Group conducted an independent evaluation of the Future City Program. The study found that participating students built 21st century skills, learned how their communities worked, gained a greater appreciation for engineering, discovered team building skills and became more informed citizens. It also found a statistically significant improvement in students’ ability to apply the engineering design process to real-world problems. 

"We need kids like us to come up with ideas for sustainable energy sources and food and water in the future because we're the ones who are going to be running the future," said Lela Ormsby, a student at O'Rourke Middle School who participated in the Albany, New York Regional Finals.

During the Future City Competition, students work as a team to design a virtual city using SimCity™ software. They research a city-wide issue and write an essay with their findings and solutions. They build a tabletop scale model of their city using recycled materials costing no more than $100 and they write a brief narrative promoting their city.  

Keith Bentley, founder and CTO of Bentley Systems, host sponsor of the DiscoverE Future City Competition for the past 19 years, said, “As an engineer, I can tell you that the Future City Competition is exactly the type of program you need to attract young students with a penchant for the technical disciplines. It allows them to work on highly complex problems that, once resolved, will be of enormous benefit to many others. This year’s theme is particularly engaging, given the crucial importance of developing technology and infrastructure that will enable urban communities to become more self-sufficient when it comes to feeding their rapidly growing populations. Based on Bentley Systems’ many years of involvement in this program, I’m confident that this year’s bright and talented participants will come up with some amazing solutions that city planners everywhere will want to consider. I want to personally congratulate all of the finalists for their enthusiasm and dedication, and wish each of the teams the best of luck!”

“These students really light up the room,” said Shell President, Marvin Odum. “Their energy is contagious and their innovative ideas to grow sustainable cities will usher in a new generation of responsible urban development.  9 billion people and the planet are counting on it.”

Future City has ongoing opportunities for engineering and technical professionals to volunteer in a number of different roles, including mentors and regional coordinators. For information about Future City or to volunteer, visit www.futurecity.org. 

Major funding for the National Finals comes from Shell Oil Company, Bechtel Corporation, and Bentley Systems.

About DiscoverE

DiscoverE is leading a growing volunteer movement that inspires and informs present and future generations to discover engineering. Our network of volunteers in the US and abroad is drawn from the DiscoverE coalition of more than 100 professional societies, major corporations and government agencies. Together we meet a vital need: introducing students, parents, and educators to engineering, engaging them in hands-on engineering experiences and making science and math relevant. For more information, visit www.discovere.org. 


Future City Competition - National:

Carina Sayles

Sayles & Winnikoff Communications

(212) 725-5200 ext. 210  carina@sayleswinnikoff.com