Middle-schoolers compete to design transit of tomorrow

Some really smart sixth, seventh and eighth graders will compete Jan. 25 in the Future City Competition Regional Finals, which will be held at University of Illinois Chicago’s Student Center East.

This year’s theme is Tomorrow’s Transit: Design a Way to Move People in and Around Your City. Kids are tasked with creating imaginative + viable solutions for public and private transportation needs – from vehicles to infrastructure. And they aren’t limited to their own towns/cities – teams have gone around the world with their ideas.

From a news release:

Future City has received national attention and acclaim for its role in encouraging middle schoolers nationwide to develop their interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The annual challenge is one of the nation’s leading engineering education programs and among the most popular.

Led by an educator and engineer mentor, students learn the basics of city planning and management as they design a virtual city using SimCity software. Via the research essay, the students delve deeper into a citywide issue.

This year’s question asks them to review the transportation options and needs of their own city, create viable ideas that consider safety, accessibility, intermodality and sustainability in an effort to reimagine a better and more efficient city. From there, each team builds a physical model of their city costing no more than $100 and are encouraged to use recycled materials in their model. They then make a presentation to a team of engineering judges discussing their Future City.

There are 21 Chicago-area schools competing in this regional competition. Good luck to all of them!


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  • What we need is a monorail, but with two rails for safety! At least, that was my idea when I was that age.

  • Not one of their ideas will make sense!
    All will be pie in the sky crap.
    12 year olds haven't ridden transit long enough to know anything. Well, they've ridden school buses, but that's it!

    What a stupid waste of time & money!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I think that is the general idea. All this talk about trying to get kids interested in STEM is a little ridiculous, though.

  • In reply to eBob:

    Not really to both of you. Better to get some middle school student interested in science and math than dropping out and dealing coke.

    Clearly, this isn't to design anything for Chicago, but if they stay in school, they might get a job in Dallas.

    But, Kevin, as some thug I mentioned before will be quick to tell you, the University of Chicago does not have a Student East Center East . It appears to be at UIC.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, thanks for pointing out my mistake, now fixed.

  • Wait! I want to play, too.

  • I still want my flying car.

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