Award-Winning Future City Competition

Announces Theme for 2021-2022:

Designing A Waste-Free City: An Overview

31th Annual International Competition

Asks Middle School Students to Design a Waste-Free City!


Rolla, MO - August 2021 – Imagine a city 100 years in the future that generates no waste and no pollution. Is this even possible? If we look to the natural world, the answer is yes! In nature, one organism’s waste is another organism’s food. Nutrients and energy flow in a cycle of growth, decay, and reuse. This is called a circular system.

Today’s built world works as a linear system (think of it as a straight line, rather than nature’s circle). This linear system follows a path of taking natural resources, making products, using them, and then throwing away anything that is left over after we are done with it – from empty water bottles to old cars. While some things in this linear system are recycled, today’s approach does not have a way to capture all the resources and materials that make up the items we throw away or the waste that’s created in the original production process. This results in a lot of trash and pollution and is using up the world’s natural resources.

But what if cities followed nature’s circular system? What if everything was reused or taken apart and remade into something else—from the house you live in, to the food you eat, the bus or car you ride in, the roads you travel on, the battery that powers your phone, and the clothes you wear? A city run on such a system would be truly waste-free.

All around the world, engineers, city planners, innovators, entrepreneurs, and government leaders are using the principles of a circular economy to create waste-free cities. They are designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.

Your challenge: Design a waste-free city that uses the principles of a circular economy.

What is a Circular Economy?

A circular economy is a way to design, make, and use things. It requires shifting our systems and will involve everyone and everything: businesses, governments, and individuals; our cities, our products, and our jobs.

A circular economy is based on three principles:
1. Design Out Waste and Pollution Waste and pollution are not accidents, but the consequences of decisions made at the design stage. What if we looked at waste as a design flaw? How can we use new materials and technologies to ensure that waste and pollution are not created in the first place?
2. Keep Products and Materials in Use We can design some products and components so they can be reused, repaired, and remanufactured. Making things last forever is not the only solution, we should be able repurpose items or recycle materials so they don’t end up in landfills.
3. Regenerate Natural Systems In nature, there is no concept of waste. Everything is food for something else – a leaf that falls from a tree feeds the forest. By returning valuable nutrients to the soil and other ecosystems, we can enhance our natural resources.

Learn more about circular economies at Register for the 2021-2022 Future City Competition at

“Being a judge for Future City Missouri has been extremely rewarding and eye-opening. For the past four years, I have gotten to know the next generation of engineers that will be tasked with solving future problems after I am (hopefully) retired. I am confident that their innovative ideas will make the future a prosperous and exciting place to exist,” said Future City Missouri judge, Mel Peterein. “I regularly spread Future City’s message and recruit professionals every chance I get at work and throughout the industry.”

In the US, over 40,000 students, representing 1,500 schools and 39 regions, take part in the Future City® Competition. Teams present their ideas at Regional Competitions in January. US regional winners then face off at the Future City Finals, where they are joined by a growing roster of international teams, including those from Canada and China. The Missouri regional final will be held on Saturday, January 22, 2022 the Missouri University of Science and Technology. The Missouri regional winner then faces off at the Finals in Washington, DC in February during Engineers Week. The exciting competition culminates with 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 Finals sponsor Bentley Systems).

The Future City Competition has been recognized with numerous prestigious national awards as a leading engineering education program. In 2017-18, Future City was honored by US2020 and co-founding sponsors, Chevron and Tata Consultancy Services, for its achievements and innovations in STEM education and its accessibility to underrepresented youth.

In 2016, the Future City Competition received the 2016 Henry C. Turner Prize for Innovation in Construction, presented by Turner Construction Company and the National Building Museum. 

In 2015, Future City was named the grand prize winner in the UL (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.) Innovative Education Award program, receiving a $100,000 award. The UL award highlights the essential, urgent and significant value of E-STEM education.

The deadline to register for this year’s Future City Competition is October 31, 2021. Register today or learn more at Visit our Facebook page for more information and updates on the Future City® Competition.

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

Major funding for Future City comes from the Bechtel Corporation, Bentley Systems, Inc, NCEES, Shell Oil Company, and DiscoverE. Additional program support provided by EA and UL.

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

Press Contact

Aimee Miller

Sayles & Winnikoff Communications

212-725-5200 x122

September 3, 2018

Award-Winning Future City Competition

Announces Theme for 2018-19:

Powering Our Future


27th Annual International Competition

Asks Middle School Students to

Design an Electrical Grid That Can Withstand and

Recover from Natural Disaster




WASHINGTON DC, xxxx – Natural disasters— earthquakes, tornadoes, or hurricanes — pose serious threats to cities and…

September 3, 2018

After aging out during the Power of Public Spaces theme, the Kaleidoscope Discovery Center Future City Team members saw a way to make their own public spaces impact.  Read link below!


September 9, 2017

We are SO excited to welcome the Future City Teams in the State of Missouri and so thankful for the years our teams have been allowed to participate in the Great Plains Regional Competition in Kansas.  This will be a great learning year for all of us!