Future City: STEAM with a social conscience

Ken Zushma, a technology/pre-engineering teacher at Heritage Middle School in Livingston, New Jersey, has brought his all-female engineering team, the FemGineers, to the Future City New Jersey Regionals for the past nine years.

Ken was looking for competitions beyond the usual robotics competitions. When he came across Future City, Ken described it as “the perfect marriage between art and engineering.” The girls were excited about a competition that allowed them to build complex models and incorporate a socially conscious aspect.

“I have had students make it to the national level in other competitions, but not only is it always on our own dime,” Ken said about his team making it to National Finals in 2015. “They also never had the feel that your event gave us: this feeling that you were truly part of something special.”

Ken made the decision to limit each Future City group to three students, which allows each member to benefit from being involved in every aspect of the project, including its final presentation. He believes this approach helps maintain strong teams. Ken says a part of Future City’s appeal is that the students vying to compete have a range of skills and aptitudes. Ken continues to look forward to having his students participate in the competition every year.

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