New York - Capital Region

Regional Coordinator: Diane Bertok & Greg Skiba


City Essay (54 pts)

Each year the program provides an essay topic that challenges students to think like engineers and address a social situation with a futurist technical solution. The team writes an Essay (1500 word maximum) on the assigned engineering related topic. Your City Essay should include a description of the attributes that make your city unique as well as provide a solution to the engineering problem. This year's topic is:

  • A Waste-Free Future

    Design a waste-free city using the three principles of a circular economy: regenerate natural systems, design out waste and pollution, and keep products and materials in use.

    Today's built world works as a linear system. 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. 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 design out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.

The maximum word count for the essay is 1500 words. 

Tutorials and educational opportunities for teachers, mentors and students are made available throughout the fall for assistance with the essay requirements and to learn more about issues in designing a city to be waste-free and using the three principles of a circular economy to address the essay topic. Students will cite a minimum of 3 sources of information on their reference page. Click here for the full Essay Question. See this year's rules for a list of all requirements. The Essay submittal date is Sunday, November 21, 2021. 

A webinar on this topic will be held on October 19, 2021 at 4:00 PM EST and will be released by Future City-National and posted on their resources page. 

Our regional committee will be holding a virtual essay tutorial on October 16, 2021. The recorded presentation will be uploaded shortly.

Research Essay Materials

You can find a great deal of materials and resources about the essay topic through the link provided by National once you register for this year's competition. 


Resource (File Download):