Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh)

Regional Coordinator: Lorren Kezmoh

Distinguished Alumni

2018 Distinguished Alumni

Eric Belski, M.Sc.

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Eric Belski participated in the 2006 Future City Pittsburgh Competition with Trinity Middle School, supported by educator Denise Cummins and mentor Daniel Swiler, Ph.D.

Eric received a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Mechanical Engineering in 2015 and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 2018, both from the University of Pittsburgh.

As an undergrad IRES Scholar Research Fellow he helped to design and prototype a portable test kit to assess the mechanical properties of bamboo specimens. This would allow engineers in developing countries to give structural ratings to buildings constructed of bamboo in order that the buildings can be insured.

As a co-op student for the Human Engineering Research Laboratories Eric was involved in the prototyping process of a low cost, single motor, power wheel chair.

He currently is working as a Mechatronic Engineer in the Mechatronic Research Group at Aerotech, Inc. (Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field of engineering that includes a combination of mechanical engineering, robotics, electronics, computer engineering, telecommunications engineering, systems engineering and control engineering.) At Aerotech his responsibilities include the research and development of control algorithms, diagnostic processes, and mechanical designs.

Eric Reflects on his Future City Experience:

"The Future City competition was one of my first exposures to a collaborative, problem solving challenge in an organized event. Prior to this I was always interested in engineering related fields such as math and science but rarely had a situation where they could be practiced on an actual problem. Enter the Future City competition, which I participated in on the Trinity Middle School team in 2006. Here was a situation that required all of these skills to be used in order to solve a challenge. As our team progressed through the different phases of the competition we quickly realized there was no "right" answer to the problem. Understanding this allowed us to iterate on designs and combine different aspects of each design to form a stronger final outcome. The essay and project plan required us to think about what we were doing and keep organized. This forethought then benefited our design as we were able to see weak points and correct them along the way. After the competition was over I realized that not only did I enjoy applying the engineering skills but that applying them in a team oriented environment was extremely rewarding. From that point on I knew that I wanted to pursue an engineering related career. Reflecting on this experience gave me the realization that my engineering skills today have their foundation in experiences like this. As I progressed into college and began pursuing mechanical engineering, the concepts and mindset I was learning were very similar to those that were introduced to me in Future City. The subject matter would vary along with the level of technicality but the underlying principles remained the same: problem solving and critical thinking. The usefulness of this was proven again when I graduated and accepted a job as a Mechatronics Engineer. A field that is halfway between a Mechanical Engineer and an Electrical Engineer. I was overwhelmed by the amount of information that I did not know but the projects still required the application of an engineering mindset, which I was already familiar with! The technical details and skills required for a project can be learned over time but the frame of mind with which to approach a problem is universal. Future City was one of my first experiences in developing that frame of mind and it has proven invaluable."


George Bivens, J.D.

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George Bivens participated in the 2006 Future City Pittsburgh Competition with Conemaugh Township School District, supported by educator Renee Santa and mentor Matt Sotosky.

George graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Literature and Government from Juniata College in 2013.

He continued to Penn State University, Dickinson School of Law where he earned his Doctor of Law (J.D.), Cum Laude, in 2017.

George currently practices corporate, real estate and bankruptcy law as an Associate at Spence Custer Attorneys at Law in Johnstown, PA.

He was a longtime volunteer at Camp PARC, a summer camp for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and an American Red Cross disaster volunteer helping Texas communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

George Reflects on his Future City Experience:

“I really enjoyed working with my team for the Future City competition. I was a part of the first team to enter from my school. Although we weren't sure what to expect, I remember that we came away with an award for creative use of bridges. Winning that award was the result of a little brainstorming and some of our discussions leading up to the competition. The Future City competition served as an effective introduction for the in-depth projects students are asked to complete in high school and college. The competition required months of diligent planning and preparation, time management skills, and creativity, all of which are important tools for any career path.” 


 Ethan Crace

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Ethan Crace participated in the 2006 Future City Pittsburgh Competition with Verna Montessori School, supported by educator John Jarocki and mentor Paul Hatala.

Ethan graduated Summa Cum Laude from St. Vincent College in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Chemistry and minors in Physics and Mathematics.

He is now on track at Stanford University to earn a Doctor of Philosophy, (Ph.D.) Inorganic Chemistry in 2019.

While an undergrad at Saint Vincent College he was active in many groups including Radio Club and Fencing Club, was a chemistry and math tutor for both high school and college students, and interned at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

As a graduate student at Stanford he has served as a teaching assistant.

Along the way Ethan, an Eagle Scout, volunteered his time for the Boy Scouts of America, teaching younger scouts outdoor and leadership skills at Camp Conestoga.

Ethan Reflects on his Future City Experience:

“From a young age, I have been fascinated by science but up until middle school, I thought of the subject as being more academic in nature. That is to say, scientists worked in labs and made interesting discoveries but it may not have directly impacted the world as a whole. Then in middle school, I participated in the Future Cities Competition and my understanding of how science impacts our lives was expanded. When trying to run our simulated city, it became apparent that people are constantly impacted by science and it was important for maintaining public health and improving quality of life. In particular, I became interested in efficient power generation, how various fuel sources effect the environment, and pollution. Part of this interest, I think, came from growing up in Pennsylvania and West Virginia which is still resolving issues caused by abandoned mines and tailings from digging for coal and iron, fracking, and burning of fossil fuels. Thanks to the Future City project, I began to understand the problems of power production and the resulting waste that is produced. Additionally, it opened my eyes to studying science to directly improve the lives of people around me, not just studying science to advance fundamental understanding. Today I am a doctoral candidate studying materials which are relevant for solar cell and solid-state lighting and I think the reason I want to work with these materials is, in part, because the Future City Competition taught me that applied science can help to improve the world and I want to be a part of that change.”


Monica Corsetti, M.D.

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Monica Corsetti participated in the 2006 Future City Pittsburgh Competition with Springdale Jr.-Sr. High School, supported by educator Sue Mellon.

Monica was awarded a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Bioengineering from the Pennsylvania State University in 2014 with honors from the Schreyer Honors College, and earned her Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree at West Virginia University School of Medicine in 2018.

During her undergrad at Penn State, she was engaged in research with the bioengineering department through a grant from the American Heart Association. Her research focused on creating and testing a mechanical setup to examine the effects of shear stress on von Willebrand Factor – a clotting molecule commonly damaged in artificial hearts and ventricular assist devices. She received the Outstanding Senior Thesis Award from the Bioengineering Department in 2014 and won Second Place in Engineering at the 2014 Penn State Undergraduate Research Exhibition.

In college and medical school, Monica found time to share her talents as a volunteer: tutoring medical students and high school math, mentoring, and helping community outreach groups.

She currently serves as an Emergency Medicine Resident Physician at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Monica Reflects on her Future City Experience:

“Participating in Future City helped put me on the path to my career in medicine. While participating in Future City at Springdale High School, I began to develop an understanding of engineering as problem solving using critical reasoning.  While trying to answer questions like, “how will we get our energy?" and then more complex questions such as, “how do we transport energy from power plants to facilities?” and “what materials do we have available to make our facilities?” I developed a passion for problem solving. I wanted to take math, science, and other STEM knowledge and put it to real life use; thus, my interest in engineering was born. Future City was one of the first things to teach me that you never approach a problem from just one angle – often a seemingly simple question or concept can have layers of complexity, and different people may have different goals or solutions for the same problem. Perhaps most importantly, Future City emphasized that teamwork is essential to solving problems effectively, whether that be designing a building, assembling an engine or even treating a patient. I still use the concepts emphasized in Future City in my work as a physician. When I see a patient in the emergency department, myself, other physicians, nurses, staff and the patient are all on a team. We all use critical reasoning skills to design and implement a treatment plan that utilizes existing resources safely, efficiently and effectively to create a great outcome for the patient.”