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National Engineers Week Future City Competition

     The National Engineers Week Future City CompetitionTM each year invites middle school students nationwide to create cities of tomorrow. The competition encourages interest in math, science and engineering through hands-on applications.

     The National Engineers Week Future City CompetitionTM, which each year invites young people to create a city of tomorrow. What began in 1992 as a modest project to encourage math and science skills and lay the foundation for a career in engineering has become the nation’s largest engineering education program, this year expected to reach 30,000 students in 1,100 schools.

     First-place winners from 37 regional competitions held in January receive an all-expense-paid trip to the Future City National Finals in Washington, D.C., February 21-23, 2005 during Engineers Week. Grand prize is a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

     The competition asks students, working in teams and under the guidance of a teacher and a volunteer engineer mentor from the community, to design a city of the future and include a plan that helps meet a particular social need.

     Students build their cities first on computer using SimCity 3000 software, donated to each school by Maxis, a division of Electronic Arts, and then in large three-dimensional scale models. They must also write an abstract describing their city, and an essay in which, this year, they must answer, "How can futuristic transportation systems efficiently use aggregate materials as a basic construction product?"

     The challenge to use aggregates – crushed stone, sand and gravel – in imaginative and efficient transportation systems may sound far-fetched at first, but Future City purposely directs participants to incorporate real engineering challenges into their plans and this year is no different. With thousands of roads, bridges, and railways in need of repair and increased traffic straining budgets, the effective use of basic transportation construction materials will become a pressing topic.

     Students can create any kind of city or transportation system, but as they devise monorails, people movers, bike paths, or freeways, they will be giving extra scrutiny to urban expansion, environmental issues, and sustainability with achievable, measurable results.

     “Asking middle school students to wrestle with the complexities of roadbeds, crushed rock, and all the rest may sound difficult, and it is,” says Carol Rieg, Future City's National Director. "But, it’s that very complexity that makes this program so popular. Whether it’s in the class curriculum or an after-school project, kids clamor to be part of Future City because they’re drawn to the challenge.”

     If a student’s interest in engineering is piqued, then all the better, say the professionals from every engineering discipline who praise the program for reaching young people at a critical time in their education. The hands-on lessons in practical math and science can prove critical in maintaining studies through high school, giving students the skills they need to pursue engineering in college.

     The National Engineers Week Future City Competition is sponsored in part by the Engineers Week Committee, a consortium of professional and technical societies and major U.S. corporations, dedicated to increasing public awareness and appreciation of the engineering profession and technology. Engineers Week 2005 is co-chaired by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and BP, p.l.c. Heading the Future City Competition Leadership Council is Bentley Systems, Inc., and sponsor of the 2005 Future City Essay question is the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association.

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