Illinois (Chicago)

Regional Coordinator: Don Wittmer, P.E.

Award-Winning Future City® Competition Announces Theme for 2019-20: Clean Water: Tap Into Tomorrow

28th Annual International Competition Asks Middle School Students to Design a Resilient System to Maintain a Clean Water Supply- DiscoverE Program

CHICAGO The pressing issue for the upcoming Future City® Competition is Clean Water: Tap Into Tomorrow for its 2019-2020 competition. Registration is open to middle schoolers for the award-winning, project-based learning experience. The State of Illinois Future City® Competition is planned for Sat., Jan. 18, 2020 at Whitney-Young Magnet School. The deadline to register for this year’s Future City® Competition is October 31, 2019.  

We turn on the faucet and clean water flows. Most of us don’t give it much thought. But for civil engineers, urban planners, developers, and other professionals, maintaining a reliable water supply takes expertise, planning, and constant vigilance. A water-resilient city must be prepared to address a wide range of risks, including drought, flooding, population change, natural and human-made disasters, and economic recession.

According to current estimates, two billion people worldwide – 25% of the world’s population - currently don’t have access to clean water. And that number is expected to double. By 2025, this vital issue may affect as many as four billion of the Earth’s citizens will be living in water-stressed areas. Sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students from across the country and abroad will be asked to identify an urban water system threat and then imagine, research, design and build a futuristic solution to ensure a reliable supply of clean water.

Working as a team with an educator and STEM mentor, students present their vision of the future through a virtual city design (using SimCity™ software); a 1,500 word city essay; a scale model of their city (built with recycled materials); and in a short presentation to a panel of STEM professionals. Keeping the engineering design process and project management front and center, students are asked to address an authentic, real-world question: How can we make the world a better place?

In the US, over 40,000 students, representing 1,500 schools and 40 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 with a growing roster of international teams, including those from Canada and China. Taking place in Washington DC, February 15-19, 2020, 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 is 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.

Register today! Don’t’ miss the registration closing date of Oct. 31, 2019. 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 several 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

Future City® State of Illinois

The State of Illinois Future City® Competition® is celebrating its 28th year as a regional group in the national competition. The regional competition involves teams, schools, and professionals from Illinois.  In addition to the actual competition, Annual Chicago Engineers Benefit Dinner showcases the top local teams and award winners. For more information, visit our website here or go to


Future City® Regional Coordinator

Don Wittmer, P.E., HNTB


Future City® Regional Committee

Matthew Miller, P.E., HNTB


Grant Manager & Press Contact

Deborah J. Hodges, State of Illinois 

Golden Square