Future City Asks Students: How Can We Make the World Better?

The Future City Challenge

Globally, more people live in urban areas than in rural areas. This is expected to grow. By 2050, it is estimated that 68% of the world’s population (or more than 6.2 billion) will live in urban areas. This is a massive change from only 50 years ago where only 30% of the world’s population lived in cities. With more people in urban areas taxing infrastructure, this poses a challenge for building and maintaining resilient cities.

Given this major shift, how can we create educational programs for the next generation of leaders to ensure that the cities of the future are safe, sustainable, and resilient?

The Future City Competition uses the engineering design process as a framework to guide students through the creation of cities. Within this framework, students apply specific project management methods to keep their projects on track. This structure gives students a real-world learning experience they can apply to future challenges in school, work and life while building future leaders to help ensure that our cities are safe.

89% of participating students reported that Future City helped them to appreciate all of the engineering that goes into a city.

Approach and Outcomes

The Future City Competition engages more than 40,000 middle school students each year throughout the United States and abroad. Students repeatedly report that the program increased their motivation and excitement about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). In addition, students and teachers report a marked improvement in students’ 21st Century skills.

The educational benefits for participants are clear. 89% of participating students reported that Future City helped them to appreciate all of the engineering that goes into a city. 68% saw themselves as becoming engineers to help deal with the future of cities.

As The Future City Competition celebrates its 25th anniversary, the future of the organization looks bright. The 2018-2019 theme for the competition is ‘Powering Our Future’. In this competition, students will be challenged with designing a resilient power grid for the future city that can withstand and quickly recover from the impacts of a natural disaster. This will be another great example of how the Future City Competition will continue its leadership role in safety education.