Today’s Minds Tapping into Tomorrow’s Future City

January 31, 2020

Future City is a STEM program for middle school students to imagine, research, and design sustainable cities of the future. These students use their creative minds to collaborate in teams to design innovative solutions and sustainable cities of tomorrow. The student teams work with engineering professionals and teachers as mentors throughout the year in the development of their future city.

Teams meet in January each year for regional/state competitions with the winner advancing to the national competition in Washington D.C. The competitions involve various judging categories including essays and virtual cities, which are submitted earlier in the process, and then presentations and city models on competition day.

This is my fourth year working with Future City. The students have designed cities and engineered solutions relating to real-world issues using a different theme each year. The theme this year was clean water. The teams designed innovative solutions to provide clean water in their future cities addressing many of the water issues we face in our world today. In my time as a judge for the Future City Competition, I have been amazed by the creativity, innovation, and understanding of the young minds involved with this program across the region.

Future City regional competition day is held at the University of Tennessee’s Tickle College of Engineering in the John D. Tickle Engineering Building. This is an all-day event where students from across the state come to network and present their future cities. This is a great opportunity for the students to learn from each other, engineering professionals in the region, and faculty at the UT Tickle College of Engineering. Representatives from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) are also present on competition day to review how each model incorporates grids, topography, and scaling to lay out their city models. In addition to exercising engineering and problem-solving skills, the students receive valuable experience in technical writing, teamwork, communication, and public speaking and presenting.

Taylor Hagood, E.I., is an engineer at LDA Engineering in Nashville, TN. He is a 2015 graduate from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a B.S. in Civil Engineering in pursuit of his P.E. license. Taylor is an active member of professional organizations including the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the American Public Works Association (APWA), and Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE).