The Future City Competition Regional Finals took place in Chicago on Saturday, January 20th at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Student Center East building. The competition is the culmination of months spent by junior high school teams and their engineering mentors to create a city of the future. Students submit a working project plan, present their solutions via a virtual city design (using SimCity), write an essay describing the unique attributes of their city and their solution to the year’s challenge (Helping Senior Citizens); build a scale model, and give a presentation to judges. Regional winners represent their region at the National Finals in Washington, DC.
For the past four years, the Illinois Section of ITE has participated as a special award judge at the Future Cities Competition. This year, 20 different professional organizations sponsored and gave 25 special awards at the competition. Josh Harris, the current Section Secretary, and Tom Szabo, the current Section Director of Activities, represented the Illinois Section of ITE this year as special award judges. Josh and Tom were tasked with reviewing each team's city and awarding the Excellence in Transportation Safety and Operations Award. This award was given to the team that had the most innovative future city design that demonstrated a safe and efficient surface transportation system that considered growth and preservation of the environment.
This year, Josh and Tom determined that the winning city deserving of this award was Flextopia, presented by students from Independence Jr. High School from Palos Heights, Illinois. Flextopia featured multiple forms of safe and efficient transportation systems, including a Hyperloop for long distance traffic, urban transport pods for regional traffic, and voice interactive self-driving vehicles for local traffic. Sidewalks and paths were available for bicyclists and pedestrians throughout the city. The presenters for this team discussed each transportation option with incredible detail.
The Illinois Section of ITE was happy to not only sponsor the Future City Competition in Chicago again this year, but to participate as judges. We look forward to participating in this event again next year!