| For Immediate Release: |
September 13, 2007
CONTACT: Donald Lehr
The Nolan/Lehr Group
(212) 967-8200 / email@example.com
MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS TACKLE INFRASTRUCTURE SAFETY IN
FUTURE CITY COMPETITION
When an interstate bridge collapses during rush hour or broken levees destroy a major city, Americans are again reminded of the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, but few people feel empowered to do anything about it. Beginning this fall, however, thousands of middle school students will tackle the issue of safety for the country’s vast network of utilities, transportation, structures, and communications systems in the 2008 National Engineers Week Future City CompetitionTM.
Sponsored by the nation’s professional engineering community, Future City aims to stir interest in science, technology, math and engineering among young people. Starting with the new school year, the competition asks students to work in teams under the guidance of a teacher and a volunteer engineer mentor to design and build a city of tomorrow. They must also conduct research for an essay on a pressing social need. This year, the essay centers on an issue straight from the headlines: How to monitor safety for the structures and systems that affect virtually every part of every person’s life.
Future City Competitions will be held in January 2008 in 40 regions across the country. First-place winners from each qualifying regional competition receive an all-expense-paid trip to the 16th annual Future City National Finals in Washington, D.C., February 18-20, 2008 during Engineers Week. National grand prize is a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. More than 30,000 students from 1,100 middle schools are expected to participate nationwide.
In Future City, the nation’s largest engineering education program and among the most popular, students first create cities on computers using SimCity 3000 software and then build three-dimensional, tabletop models to scale. To ensure a level playing field, models must use recycled materials and can cost no more than $100. Students also write brief abstracts describing their city and must present and defend their designs at the competition before a panel of engineer judges who test the depth of the teams’ knowledge.
That knowledge is often astonishingly evidenced by the essays which require 7th- and 8th-graders to explore complex challenges that most adults would consider out of their league. This year’s topic, “Keeping Our City Infrastrucure Healthy: Using Nanotechnology to Monitor City Structures and Systems,” should prove particularly fruitful.
Engineers and researchers contend that nanotechnology, generally described as technology and devices operating at the molecular level, offers limitless potential. The essays must describe how built-in nanotechnology within a single component of their city’s infrastructure, such as a tunnel or the water supply, monitors for safety. Further, the monitoring system should include ways to resolve problems with a minimum of human intervention. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is this year’s Future City essay sponsor.
Although their essays, like their Future City designs, deal with hypothetical models, they are nonetheless rooted in reality. The competition encourages students to draw on resources such as the latest research in scientific papers and even interviews with top experts from around the globe.
Combining up-to-date findings on a cutting-edge technology with the eager minds of students as young as 12 can result in some eye-opening approaches, says Future City National Director Carol Rieg. “Engineers who have worked in their field for years often look at these essays and come away amazed at the advanced concepts,” says Rieg.
“Future City exposes young people to engineering, which they interpret as a pathway to the world of possibilities,” she adds. “These young minds see a boundless future. The competition shows them that engineering is the way to get there.”
The National Engineers Week Future City Competition is sponsored in part by the National Engineers Week Foundation, a consortium of professional and technical societies and major U.S. corporations, co-chaired in 2008 by IBM and the Chinese Institute of Engineers-USA (CIE-USA). Major funding comes from Bentley Systems, Inc. and Shell Oil Company.
School registration deadline for the 2008 Future City Competition is October 15, 2007. For more information on entering or volunteering in the Future City Competition, visit www.futurecity.org, or call 1-877-636-9578. Any and all interested schools, teachers, students or engineers are encouraged to participate.
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IN BRIEF: The National Engineers Week Future City CompetitionTM each year invites middle school students nationwide to create cities of tomorrow. The competition encourages interest in science, technology, engineering and math through hands-on applications. This year's challenge is keeping America’s city infrastructure healthy by using nanotechnology to monitor city structures and systems. Registration deadline for schools is October 15, 2007. For more information, visit www.futurecity.org, or call toll-free 1-877-636-9578.