2019 Future City Competition

Posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2019 by
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future city competition affinis

Affinis has a long-standing history supporting the Great Plains Regional Future City Competition. At this event, small groups of middle-school students design and build cities with their ideas of how to make the world a better place.

Students work together to develop solutions that are presented via a virtual city design (using SimCity); an essay; a scale model; a project plan, and a presentation. The models can be based on actual cities or completely designed from scratch.

Ryan Stobaugh, PE, attended the event for the first time this year as a judge, so we sat down with him to see what he learned.

Of the solutions presented, which ones do you think are the most likely to be implemented in the future?
The theme for the competition was powering the future. The most impressive cities were designed with multiple sources of renewable energy, using combinations of wind, hydro, solar, and geothermal. I think moving away from fossil fuels is a practical approach that many cities are moving towards.

What was the most innovative idea you saw?
A group of students from Lawrence designed a city near Tokyo, whose primary source of power came from ocean turbines. Essentially, they would use tidal forces to generate power and used geothermal loops to turn secondary generators for a back-up.

What kinds of trends did you see in the designs? Were there any common themes?
There were a lot of Elon Musk fans. Nearly all the cities had a hyperloop train as the primary source of transportation, which was interesting to see.

What surprised you about the ideas presented?
It was really amazing to see what middle school students (6th to 8th grade) could come up with. It seemed that no matter how outrageous an idea appeared on the surface the students would have a research source from MIT to corroborate their proposal, making it a viable solution to power their city. For example, one group used generating electricity through seismic activity.

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