By: Shirley Tang
On January 20th, the 2024 Future City Pittsburgh Regional Competition was held in Robinson Township, Pennsylvania. This STEM program involves teams of middle-school students addressing sustainability issues to design and build a future city. This year’s theme was “Electrify Your Future”, with participants tasked to build a 100% electrically powered city with energy generated from sources that prioritize the safety of the citizens and environment. The challenge involved producing a city plan and essay, constructing a scale model of the city complete with moving parts, and presenting their city to the judges.
Eight teams from Western Pennsylvania participated in this year’s Future City Pittsburgh Regional Competition. The overall award went to Fort Couch Middle School, whose team designed a comprehensive city of multiple renewable energy resources, various options for accessible public transit, and a high priority for healthcare access and availability of emergency services. The team will advance to the National Competition in Washington D.C. in February 2024.
The special awards for this year included recognition for Best Use of Green Construction, Outstanding Future City Project Plan, Most Innovative Design of Infrastructure Systems, and many other achievements. Members from the ASCE Pittsburgh Section attended to judge the overall competition and two special awards.
The ASCE Pittsburgh Section presented the special award for Quality of Life, recognizing a team that incorporated concepts such as accessibility, community, and equity within their city design. The award went to Derry Area Middle School, which had an impressive city layout that prioritized accessibility of residents to public services and promoted traveling by foot or bicycle as an energy generation method. This team’s city also incorporated a disaster mitigation plan to address the proximity of their future city to a dormant volcano and to prioritize the safety of the residents.
The ASCE Pittsburgh Section also presented the special award Best Visualization of a Smart, Sustainable City on behalf of ASCE National. This special award was won by The Ellis School which incorporated multiple sources of renewable energy integrated with an AI system to efficiently harness available energy. Their city design also incorporated smartwatch technology to connect residents directly to city resources such as healthcare, community information, and updates regarding energy accessibility.
The event was an impressive showcase of the students’ awareness of the renewable energy sources and technologies that may be implemented in the future for the benefit of our communities. Some recurring solutions included: wind turbines, solar panels, maglev trains, and vertical farming.
This event also aligns with ASCE’s Future World Vision initiative, which reimagines the potential of infrastructure into various future scenarios with a focus on the impact of six key trends. These six trends are: alternative energy, autonomous vehicles, climate change, smart cities, high tech construction, and policy & funding. The film based on Future World Vision research, Cities of the Future, premieres locally at the Carnegie Science Center in February 2024. Read more about ASCE’s Future World Vision Initiative here: https://www.futureworldvision.org/
From Left to Right: ASCE Pittsburgh Members Erin Feichtner, Shirley Tang, Taylor DaCanal, and Kenneth Anderson.