This year, the Future City Challenge theme was "Powering Our Future!" The teams were challenged to design a city with a resilient power grid that can withstand or recover quickly from natural disasters.
As in the past, NTH judged the "Best Engineered Project" special award. There was considerable competition in this category, and all of the teams had interesting engineering solutions that would allow their cities to withstand natural disasters. University Prep Math and Science Middle School, Detroit did stand out to our judges due to the layout of their city and their infrastructure design, however, it was their solution to river flooding that really caught our eye. They designed the banks of their river to be surrounded by balloon-type structures that would inflate automatically at the first sign of rising waters in order to protect the city from flooding. These structures would then deflate when the threat disappeared without any physical work needed to remove them, like sand bags or other manual solutions would require.
Another team that stood out to us for their engineering and their excellent presenting skills was St. John's Lutheran School. Their city and supplemental collateral were an excellent way to convey their engineering solutions. It turns our that our instincts were right on as this all-female team ended up winning the entire competition. In February, the winning team from each region competes at the national finals in Washington, DC, so St. John's will represent Michigan to compete in the finals. (Click here for the link to all winners.)
Our judging team was thrilled to participate in the competition again this year and enjoyed seeing the enthusiasm, intelligence and creativity from these 6th - 8th grade students. We expect to be working alongside some of them in the future here at NTH!