We would like to thank SEAoA member Richard Dahlmann and all of our SEAoA Member judges for participating in the Future Cities competition this year. Richard has spearheaded this effort for the last 3 years and built it into something that the SEAoA can be proud of and a fine example of our mission to reach out to the community and educate them about our profession.
From Rich Dahlmann:
The SEAoA is proud to have given a society award at the recent Future Cities competition for the Phoenix region. Future Cities is a program set up for 6th, 7th and 8th graders across the nation and is designed to encourage engineering to our youth. Around 300 teams started this competition in September and 92 teams made it the regional finals.
The participants engage in a several month long expedition to compete in the Future Cities program. They have several deliverables that are due over a four-month timeframe. First, the students design a city using Sim City software. They all have the same guidelines and the cities are judges according to how well they meet the criteria. The second deliverable involves the students writing an essay and narrative about their city. Third, they build a physical model of a portion of their city. This is to be built to scale, and the students have a maximum budget of $100. Finally, they make a 7-minute presentation to a team of judges regarding their city.
Several awards are presented to the winning teams. The top team in the overall competition represents Arizona at the national finals in Washington D.C. In addition to the overall competition awards, over 20 society awards were handed out. These are from all the varying engineering and architectural societies across the valley.
The SEAoA award was given for “Most Innovative Structures” with the criteria being the best use of structural principles taking into account unique structural loading due to local conditions (earthquake, wind…).
I need to thank our terrific team of judges. Our team included Pam Kotrys, Elena Badilla, Cody Haptonstall, Ben Crellin and myself. This team put in several hours reviewing essays and narratives in order to narrow down our choices from 92 to around 20. Many team members then went to the main City of Phoenix library during the week before the competition in order to review the models that were built. This narrowed the field further. On Saturday, January 28, we had the opportunity to meet with these teams and view many of their presentations. From here, the final selections were made and our winner was decided.
The SEAoA’s award was presented to the city named “River Valley”. A team from Payne Junior High School in the southeast valley constructed this city. River Valley is to be situated along the San Andres fault. Their residential area was located underground and was protected from seismic activity using the same principles that protect missile silos. They also have a dome with solar panels mounted to it. These solar panels move around the dome, tracking the sun for the most efficiency.
Congratulations to River Valley- hopefully we have some future structural engineers in the making.
From this competition, and other interactions with students, it is apparent that structural engineering is not well known to the public. Participation in events like this and the Engineering Day activities at the Arizona Science Center help introduce young minds to Structural Engineering. Encounters like this may open up opportunities for students that they didn’t even know existed before.
Please consider participating in events like these. It does make a difference.