By Natalie Kost and Martina Hahn Baur
How can we make the world a better place? This question is being answered by some enterprising youth. Each year, teams of sixth through eighth grade students work together with their teacher and an engineering mentor to plan, design, and build a model of a future city in which a specific problem facing our society is addressed and creative solutions are embraced. This year’s challenge, The Age-Friendly City, asked students to identify an issue older people have and engineer two innovative solutions that allow them to remain active and independent. Nine teams from all across Missouri worked for more than four months on their projects and competed last weekend at the Missouri Future City Competition hosted by the Kaleidoscope Discovery Center on the campus of Missouri S&T. This was the first State competition held in Missouri in 13 years. In previous years, Missouri teams have competed in the Great Plains region against Kansas and Colorado teams or the Illinois competition in Chicago.
The Kaleidoscope Discovery Center was excited about bringing the competition to a local, Missouri venue and picking up the mantel of coordinating and running the Missouri Regional competition. “As a student of civil and architectural engineering, I am so excited to see all these young kids so excited, curious, and passionate about the same things as me. I am so excited to see where these kids go in the future,” shared Natalie Kost, AmeriCorps VISTA for Engineering at the Kaleidoscope Discovery Center. The competition came together thanks to a number of local volunteers including the new Missouri Future City Alumni group.
Dr. Stuart Baur, associate professor in the Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Department at S&T, was the featured speaker. He discussed the future of sustainable building practices and the S&T Solar Decathlon Entries. Missouri S&T is the only university that has competed in six of the last seven Decathlons.
Professionals from across the State volunteered their time and expertise to judge one of five deliverables: a virtual city design (using SimCity), a 1,500-word city essay, a scale model, a project plan, and a presentation. The students showcased all they had learned about the design process and engineering methods with their many innovative and creative solutions for the wide range of issues facing an age friendly city. Awards were given for 1st-5th places, along with special awards from Black & Veatch, Brinkmann, UTW Realty, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, and additional support from the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce.
Usia Ramah, the St. Clair team that won the State competition, will go on to compete at the national competition in Washington, DC in February. Rolla Team Kiwi received the top Virtual City Award. For now these students are just making their Sim City world a better place. But with the skills and knowledge gained from this program, they really will one day make changes in our world to make it a better place.
For more information, please contact Natalie Kost, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit futurecity.org. You can also “like” the Future City Competition Missouri on FB.