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Future City CompetitionTM Focuses On Fuel Cells

October 01, 2006

For most people, the promise of fuel cells is only that, a complicated technology closer to a pipe dream than reality. For tens of thousands of seventh and eighth graders across the United States participating in the 2007 National Engineers Week Future City Competition TM, however, fuel cells are the key component of urban energy strategies that may serve as real world examples.

Future City, sponsored by the nation’s professional engineering community, each year asks students, working in teams and under the guidance of a teacher and a volunteer engineer mentor, to design and build a city of tomorrow. Students must also research and write an essay on a pressing social need. This year, the focus is on fuel cells and middle school students nationwide will tackle the challenge full force.

Future City Competitions in 38 regions across the country will be held in January. Regional first place winners receive an all-expense-paid trip to the Future City National Finals in Washington, D.C., February 19-21, 2007 during Engineers Week. Grand prize is a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, AL. More than 30,000 students from 1,100 middle schools are expected to participate in Future City this year as it celebrates its 15th anniversary.

In the competition, the nation’s largest engineering education program, students first create cities on computers using SimCity 3000 software (donated to each school by Electronic Arts), and then build three-dimensional scale models. Students also write a brief abstract describing their city and present and defend their designs before a panel of engineer judges.

And then there is the essay with its invitation to delve into a subject that most adults barely understand. The 2007 Future City essay, sponsored by IEEE-USA (the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers–USA), addresses the following topic: “Develop an energy strategy to include fuel cell systems to power a city of the future.”

Registration deadline for the 2007 Future City Competition is October 15, 2006. For more information on entering or volunteering, visit www.futurecity.org.

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