NOVI (WWJ) – If you’re worried about the future of American innovation, attend a Future City competition.

You’ll see dozens of teams from middle schools around Michigan who use software to design a city more than 150 years in the future. The cities all have futuristic methods of providing clean water, food, shelter, energy, transportation, fulfilling work and recreation to their residents. And there’s a specific theme of each year’s competition. This year’s theme challenged students to “Rethink Runoff: Design clean solutions to manage stormwater pollution.”

The scientific language and skills of the students will simply blow you away.

Besides the engineering challenges, the teams also write essays about their cities, honing their writing skills. They build scale models of their cities, honing their design and artistic skills (not to mention scavenging for cheap parts with which to build a realistic-looking city, since the teams aren’t allowed to spend much on the models). And they offer detailed, memorized presentations on their cities, honing

(credit: WWJ/Matt Roush)

(credit: WWJ/Matt Roush)

public speaking skills.

Monday, the ESD sponsored another Future City competition. And for the second year in a row, the team from St. John Lutheran in Rochester emerged clearly as the top team in the opinion of the judges, six expert engineers from the Detroit area.

In addition to winning first place, St. John also walked away with several special awards, including Best Design, Engineering & Construction; Best Engineered Project; Best Use of Energy; Electro-Technology Award; and the People’s Choice Award.

St. John Lutheran will now prepare to head for Washington, D.C. to the national Future City Competition, being held during National Engineers Week Feb. 16-22. National Engineers Week has sponsored the competition for 20 years; ESD has sponsored a regional for the past 18 years.

The competition went on despite foul weather that closed down most schools around metro Detroit. Twenty of the originally scheduled 26 teams showed up for the competition.

(Credit: WWJ/Pat Sweeting)

(Credit: WWJ/Pat Sweeting)

Second place was earned by a first-year team with a ton of future potential from the Jain Temple of Greater Detroit in Farmington Hills. Third place went to Birney K-8 School of Southfield. Fourth place was claimed by St. Joseph School of Lake Orion, and fifth place by St. Valentine School of Redford Township.

From Detroit and Farmington Hills to Grand Blanc and Lansing, students have been working diligently since September along with their teachers and volunteer engineer mentors to design future cities that incorporate the theme along with sound science and engineering principles.

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