Middle schools preparing for Future City Competition

Thursday, October 10, 2013
by: Rene Abadie

HAMMOND – Middle school teams from Louisiana and Mississippi are preparing to participate in the Future City Competition to be held in January 2014 at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Teams of sixth, seventh and eighth graders will participate in the National Engineers Week Foundation's 2013-14 Future City Competition, where they are asked to design a city of the future and predict what it may look like by using the simulation program SimCity software. The software is provided free to all registered participating teams.

This year's challenge: Identify a problem of moving people in a city of the future and design a mode of transportation to solve this problem.

Deadline to register teams is October 31, said Cris Koutsougeras, professor of computer science at Southeastern and Louisiana regional coordinator. For information and school registration, visit www.futurecity.org. Questions can also be directed to Koutsougeras as ck@southeastern.edu.

Major sponsors for the Louisiana regional event are Shell and Entergy, which also sponsored previous Future City competitions at Southeastern.

"This year, with Entergy's support, we will be able to make a $500 award to each of the top five teams in the competition," Koutsougeras said.

The actual competition will take place Saturday, Jan. 25, on Southeastern's campus in Hammond. The winning team will be sent to participate in the national competition in Washington, DC, in February 2014. While the program has been around for more than 20 years, this is only the third year the competition has been held in Louisiana.

"The program is gaining in popularity, and we have seen an increasing number of schools in both Louisiana and Mississippi expressing an interest in the competition and entering teams," said Koutsougeras. "It is exciting to see the ingenuity and energy these young people put into their models and presentations."

In addition to school-based teams, Koutsougeras said the competition this year is open to community organizations such as Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, as long as participants are in line with middle school grades 6 through 8.

"Future City is an ideal opportunity for students, their teachers and volunteer mentors to work together as a team in developing creative solutions to the growing problem of urban transportation," Koutsougeras said.

Using SimCity software – provided free to registered teams -- the student teams will work with a teacher and volunteer mentor, usually an engineer, to design a virtual Future City model that incorporates their ideas. They will build a physical model using recycled materials that can cost no more than $100 to build.

The National Engineers Week Foundation works year-round to sustain and grow a strong engineering profession critical to public health, safety and welfare. The Foundation supports engineering outreach, education and celebration through a network of thousands of volunteers in a coalition of more than 100 professional societies, major corporations and government agencies.


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