IDAHO STUDENTS COMPETE IN 2013 FUTURE CITY COMPETITION
Envisioning a city of the future and managing stormwater pollution
By Steve Linhart, AICP and Jon Cecil, AICP
Hundreds of sixth, seventh and eighth graders representing teams from schools throughout Idaho gathered at Boise State University’s Simplot Ballroom for the Ninth Annual Idaho Future City Competition held on January 26, 2013. The statewide competition was the culmination of efforts that began for the students in fall 2012.
The Idaho Future City Competition is a non-profit organization affiliated with the National Engineers Week Foundation whose mission is to “focus on an engineering challenge with a hands-on application as students present their vision of a city of the future by working in teams along with their teacher and a volunteer engineer mentor.”
Future City alumni have entered various career fields, including engineering, architecture, planning and science. In this competition, teams of Idaho middle schoolers built cities of the future using math, science and other disciplines to work together and develop a design to solve real world issues. This year’s theme was “Rethink Runoff – Design clean solutions to manage stormwater pollution.” The National Future City Competition Committee wanted to foster the participants’ understanding of storm water runoff issues and how it can become a serious source of water pollution, affecting drinking water and recreation opportunities such as swimming and fishing. The Committee also wanted the participants to know that runoff can be a valuable resource and that it is time to think creatively about managing storm water.
Teams were evaluated based on four competition components: design a city using SimCity 4 software; build a tabletop scale model using recycled materials; write an essay based on the year’s theme; and, present their model and idea at the aforementioned competition. Twenty-three teams from sixteen schools from across Idaho competed. The winning team from Meridian Middle School presented their future city “Grad Izdrzljivosti” (Croatian for “City of Endurance”) at the National Finals competition held during Engineers Week February 17-23, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
Teams were also judged based on Special Award categories from competition sponsors, including the American Planning Association’s Idaho Chapter (APA Idaho). APA Idaho was a Platinum Award Sponsor this year and they selected criteria based on a city design that best considers how a future city’s citizens can live, play and recreate. APA Idaho Chapter President Daren Fluke, AICP said, “The Chapter’s participation in this worthwhile educational experience is based on bridging professional disciplines including architecture, engineering and planning. Our kids need to understand how architectural, engineering and planning principles are applied in real world situations.”
This was APA Idaho’s second year sponsoring this event and the first year sponsoring a Special Award category. In addition to APA Idaho’s financial contribution, a number of APA Idaho members also volunteered their time and expertise, including: Jon Cecil, AICP, and member of Western Planner Resources’ Board of Directors; Anna Canning, AICP, Chapter Education and Outreach Officer; and Diane Kushlan, AICP, Chapter Professional Development Officer. They served as judges of APA Idaho’s Special Award “Best Use of Recreation.”
During the afternoon award ceremony, Charles Hutchinson, AICP, and a Chapter District Representative, presented the award to the design team from Boise’s Idaho Distance Education Academy who designed the future city, “Hurit-Sokanon.” Steve Linhart, AICP and APA Idaho Chapter member, served as a Competition Steering Committee member responsible for coordinating fundraising and Special Awards.
“The Hurit-Sokanon” Model (Algonquin for ‘Beautiful Rain’) developed by the student design team from the Idaho Distance Education Academy did a fantastic job incorporating recreational elements,” said Jon Cecil, AICP. “The model envisioned geodesic domes with sustainable villages containing all services—facilitated by Green Infrastructure—with green roofs, subterranean sidewalks, permeable pathways and a subway system that allowed easy access to all of the passive and active recreational facilities located throughout the community.” “The students did a great job,” said Cecil, “enthusiastically explaining their designs in detail and answering questions from the judges.”
Generous financial support from businesses, professional organizations such as APA Idaho, agencies, colleges and universities as well as volunteers, is critical to the success and existence of the Future City Program. Event planning is already underway for Idaho’s 2013-2014 Future City Competition, which will be a milestone because it marks a decade of the state’s participation in this event.