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CSRA students craft futuristic cities in bid to win national competition

January 27, 2019

Intricate, revolutionary cities of the future were on full display Saturday morning at USC Aiken.

The cities were designed by some of the Aiken and Augusta regions’ best and brightest middle school students as part of the Future City contest, a project-based learning program in which students from across the country research, design and ultimately compete to have their municipal creations crowned king.

This year’s challenge – theme, perhaps – was resistance and rebound to natural disaster; a proper, innovative electrical grid was crucial.

“The Future City competitors used creativity, imagination and ingenuity to create resilient cities with connected systems and a robust infrastructure in place to limit damage and help the city quickly recover,” Taylor Rice, representing Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, said. “Their projects were impressive.”

SRNS education outreach staff have managed the South Carolina Future City Regional competition for 16 years in partnership with USCA.

Dozens of teams defended their designs – crafted with egg cartons and water bottles and popsicle sticks and tubing and more – Saturday as judges made their respective rounds.

Each team of three created their city first using SimCity software. Then, the teams were tasked with writing a 1,500-word essay. The physical representation, built to scale, was the final step.

Some cities featured windmills and turbines and generators; other cities brandished bold roadways and bridges and buildings.

“Designing a city of the future is a difficult task for anyone, much less a middle school student,” Rice said. “Requiring an effective way to protect a citywide electrical grid would be a significant task for those studying engineering in college.”

Teams in the South Carolina region – 40 of them, according to an event press release – began work on their cities when the school year started.

More than 40,000 middle school students representing 1,350 schools take part in the Future City competition, according to the same press release. Regional winners head to the finals in Washington D.C. next month.

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