NOVI (WWJ) — Imagine a city where the vibrations of traffic charge batteries for electric cars, and where those cars can snap into trainlike mass transit.
Those were among the ideas that St. John Lutheran School in Rochester used to design a city in China centures into the future. And that city was judged the best of 25 entries in Monday’s Engineering Society of Detroit’s 19th annual Michigan Regional Future City Competition.
St. John, which won top spot in the competition for the fourth straight year, now goes on to compete in the national Future City event, held in Washington D.C. during National Engineers Week, Feb. 16-22.
More than 500 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students from nearly 40 schools participated this year. WWJ tech reporter Matt Roush served as master of ceremonies at the daylong event, which saw five teams selected as finalists and make five-minute presentations to a panel of engineer judges.
Participating teams imagine and design their city, at least 150 years into the future, using SimCity software. They must also write an essay about their city, build a physical model of their city on a very limited budget, and make an oral presentation about their city in front of a panel of judges. Thus, the competition combines science, mathematics and engineering skills with writing and public speaking.
Each year’s contest has a theme around which the city must be designed. This year, the theme was efficient, green transportation.
Other finalists were:
* Second place: St. Valentine School, Redford Township. Their city, Illu Suun, was located in Tasmania. It featured two main types of transportation: The “Vac-Track,” which uses air pressure to move pods along a track, and the “Mag-Way,” which uses magnetism to move personal pods.
* Third place: MacArthur K-8 University Academy, Southfield. Their city, Pavati, is in the Pacific Ocean offshore from Portland, Ore. There’s a tube transportation system called Malila, and the Flywire, a backpack that turns into a bicycle.
* Fourth place: Jain Society of Greater Detroit, Farmington Hills. Their city, Papachzbro, features open-bellied buses, autonomous voice-controlled vehicles and drones for deliveries.
* Fifth place: Athanasius Kircher Academy, Belleville. Their city, New Alexandria, features a mass transit system that picks up privately owned cars or cargo containers and ferries them around. Making the top five was notable for this rookie team of home-schooled students.
In addition to winning first place, the team from St. John Lutheran also received several special awards, including the Best Award for Architectural Engineering of an Integrated High Performing City sponsored by Lawrence Technological University; the Quality Improvement Award sponsored by the American Society for Quality, Greater Detroit Section 1000; the Best Communities by Design Award sponsored by American Institute of Architects, Michigan; the Most Use of Alternative or Renewable Fuels Award sponsored by Dürr Systems Inc.; and the People’s Choice Award sponsored by Ford Motor Co. Fund.
St. Valentine School received the Best Quality of Life Award sponsored by the ESD Institute, as well as the Safest City Award sponsored by Hartland Insurance Group Inc.
MacArthur Academy received the Best Essay Award sponsored by Crain’s Detroit Business; the Best Futuristic Transportation Award sponsored by Denso International America Inc., and the Building with the American Spirit: People, Projects, Communities Award sponsored by Barton Malow Co.
The fourth place winner, Jain Society of Greater Detroit, also received the Best Design, Engineering & Construction special award, sponsored by Walbridge, and The William Barclay Parsons Excellence Award sponsored by Parsons Brinckerhoff Michigan Inc.
Kircher Academy received the Best Rookie Team Award sponsored by the University of Michigan College of Engineering.