St. John Lutheran School in Rochester repeats as Michigan Future City champ

SOUTHFIELD—For the fifth straight year and 15th time in the past 20 years, a team from St. John Lutheran School in Rochester earned first place in the Michigan Regional Future City Competition, conducted by The Engineering Society of Detroit.

A total of 14 middle school teams from around Michigan participated in the virtual event.

Future City is a project-based learning program where students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades imagine, research, design, and build cities set at least 100 years in the future. The competition’s theme changes every year to keep the competition fresh. This year’s theme saw students building sustainable cities that use the principles of a circular economy—designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.

The program’s requirements see teams develop a project plan, write an essay about their city, build a physical model of their city built with recycled materials, develop a seven-minute presentation on their city, and respond to judges’ questions after the presentation.

The St. John team imagined a city of Detroit in the year 2122 with a growing population of over 2 million, powered by solar and wind energy with green agricultural and woodland zones, and sophisticated waste recycling and waste-to-energy systems. (Presenters from the winning team are pictured above.)

Finishing in second place was the Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Anishnabe Public School Academy in Sault Ste. Marie. Their city, Bahweting—the name of Sault Ste. Marie in the Anishnabe Native American language, meaning “The Place of the Rapids”—envisioned a future Soo with sustainable agriculture using native foods, hydrogen-powered sky trains and solar-powered autonomous cars for transportation, and a system where citizens lease rather than buy appliances so they can be recycled.

In third place was the Comstock STEM Academy in Kalamazoo County. Their city, Evergreen Falls, ran on renewable energy such as solar and hydroelectric plants, with maglev trains and hydrogen-powered buses for transportation.

Other schools participating included Detroit Country Day School, DeWitt Middle School (three teams), a homeschool group from DeWitt, Light of the World Academy in Pinckney (four teams), and Pierce Middle School in Grosse Pointe Park (two teams).

St. John now advances to the national Future City competition, which will be livestreamed March 23. Internationally, more than 45,000 middle school students participate in Future City each year.

Robert Magee, ESD executive director, thanked the teachers, mentors, judges and sponsors involved in staging the event, and expressed hope that the event can return to in-person competition for 2023, which will mark Future City’s 30th year. ESD has managed the Michigan regional competition for 26 years.

Future City is a program of DiscoverE, the national engineering education and promotional organization that introduced National Engineers Week (1951), Future City (1993), Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (2001), and World Engineering Day (2016). Its programs cover pre-K to the work force, reaching millions of students, parents, and young adults with the message that engineers work with smart, inspiring people to invent, design, and create things that matter.

Presenting sponsors of the Future City Michigan Regional are the DTE Foundation and the Ford Motor Company Fund.

For information on how you can become part of building a Future City, visit, or contact Allison Marrs, ESD Future City program manager, at or (248) 353-0735.

Founded in 1895, The Engineering Society of Detroit is a multi-disciplinary society uniting engineering, scientific and allied professions to enhance professional development and foster excitement in math and science to produce our next generation of leaders. Serving this generation of engineers and fostering the next. For more information, visit

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