Registration For 2014-2015 Future City Competition Now Open

SOUTHFIELD — Want to have fun while creating the technologies of tomorrow and helping solve the toughest problems society can dish out?

Future City is for you.

Registration for the 2014-15 Future City competition is now officially open.

Future City is a national, project-based learning experience where students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade imagine, design, and build cities of the future. It’s managed in Michigan by The Engineering Society of Detroit, and nationally is a program of DiscoverE, an engineering organization that is a coalition of more than 100 professional societies, corporations and government agencies.

Each year Future City’s competition is organized around a central theme. This year, that theme is urban agriculture.

It’s a natural for a Future City topic. According to DiscoverE, experts now predict that, in the coming decades, the Earth’s arable land will no longer be sufficient to produce enough food for the planet’s growing population. At the same time, nearly all of the world’s population growth between now and 2030 will be concentrated in urban areas. With these two critical concerns converging, farming in and around cities will be essential to feeding the world’s population. The urban agriculture movement is one of the most important solutions to the urgent effort to ensure that the global community has access to fresh, affordable and healthy food.

This year’s Future City theme is Feeding Future Cities, and it encourages students to explore today’s urban agriculture, from aeroponic systems for roof top farms to recycled gray water to the sustainability-driven farm-to-table movement, and develop a futuristic solution to growing crops within the confines of their city.

Teams from 37 regions — including ESD’s Michigan competition — will present their ideas before judges at Regional Competitions in January. Winners will represent their regions at the National Finals in Washington, D.C. in February.

Working in a team with an educator and engineer mentor, students are challenged to design a virtual city using SimCity software. They will research today’s urban farms and write an essay describing their solution to feeding their citizens. Students then bring their ideas to life by building a tabletop scale model of their city using recycled materials on a budget of $100 or less and write a brief narrative promoting their city.

Major funding for the National Finals comes from Shell Oil Co., Bentley Systems and Bechtel Corp.

“There’s no better way to encourage young people to take on the issues of tomorrow headfirst than by asking them to tap into their creativity, inventiveness, and passion,” said Michael Alvarez, manager of workforce development at Shell. “We applaud Future City in its continued efforts to give young people the opportunity to experience the sense of accomplishment and reward that ‘STEM-based’ careers can offer!”

Added Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems, a sponsor of Future City for the past 19 years: “We primarily accomplish our mission of sustaining infrastructure — which in turn sustains our economy and environment — by providing engineers with their professional software. But we recognize that it is equally important to sustain their professions by encouraging young students to pursue careers in the infrastructure disciplines. The highly engaging Future City Competition experience provides just such encouragement by pitting the enthusiasm, determination, and innovative minds of young people against relevant, real-world engineering challenges.”

More than 40,000 students, representing 1,350 schools, take part in the Future City Competition. The deadline to register is Oct. 31. To learn more or to register, visit Updates and information are also available on the Future City Facebook page.

For Michigan information on Future City, contact ESD’s Future City coordinator, Allison Marrs, at (248) 353-0735, ext. or

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