The Theme: The Power of Public Space
The Topic: Public spaces have the capacity to revitalize a city’s economy by introducing new businesses and bringing in new visitors. They can also help reduce crime, ease traffic congestion, improve pedestrian safety, promote healthy living, improve the environment, and enhance civic engagement. A recent study by the UN-Habitat’s Global Urban Observatories Unit found that cities that devoted about 50% of their space to public use tended to be more prosperous and have a higher quality of life. Imagine what it would be like to walk down the main street of a city 100 years in the future. What would you hear, see, smell, and feel? How would the people who live in your future city describe it? What would make it futuristic and innovative?
The Challenge: Design innovative, multiuse public spaces that serves a city’s diverse population.
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. In January, they present their version of the future to a panel of judges at Regional Competitions.
The teams that win their Regional Competitions receive round-trip transportation and hotel accommodations so they can compete at the National Finals held in Washington, DC in February. Fierce competition over four days 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 Bentley Systems, Inc.).
Future City is a student outreach activity in New Jersey that has brought together the education community, local engineering alumni, engineering firms and various professional societies.
Our mission is to provide a fun and exciting educational engineering program for 6th, 7th & 8th grade students that combine a stimulating engineering challenge with a “hands-on” application to research, design and present their vision of a city of the future using SimCity Software and recycled materials.
In recent years the region competition has grown to over 500 participating students, teachers, and mentors. Feedback from both students and teachers has been exceedingly positive, with exclamations of an excellent engineering experience!