Area youth tackle urban sustainability

New York area seventh- and eighth-grade students showed off their engineering smarts and their budding knack for branding on Saturday, January 24 when they revealed models of sustainable cities with names like Sem Agua, Hope, Poseidon, Amala Saher, and Leilano.

The students were gathered for the 2009 National Engineers Week Future City Competition’s regional finals. Into its second decade, the competition, which Polytechnic Institute of NYU hosted for the 12th consecutive year in partnership with the American Society of Civil Engineers Metropolitan Section, continues to search for solutions to some of the 21st century’s most pressing dilemmas:

How will we create comfortable, earth-friendly cities in a world with growing population and depleting natural resources? How will we become a more efficient, innovative, and scientifically-literate society? How will America better prepare – and inspire – its students for careers in math, science, technology, and engineering?

The Future City Competition challenged this year’s competitors to research, design, and build energy-efficient cities that conserve, recycle, and reuse existing water sources. Many of the models incorporated familiar “green” technologies, such as rooftop gardens and water filtration plants. Others, like Sem Agua, featured lesser-known techniques. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle spoke to Jonas Gonzalez, a member of the Sem Agua team:

“Jonas Gonzalez, a seventh-grader at Philippa Schuyler I.S. 383, described his team’s colorful city ‘Sem Agua,’ which was made of recycled and painted bottles, boxes and other findings. 

“There’s a plasma degasification system to create massive amounts of energy,” he said. “We researched online about different technologies. This system, under the ground, takes waste and creates energy.”

Winning at the regional competition means much more than earning a spot in the national competition in Washington D.C. NYU-Poly awards an annual $5,000 scholarship to each of the three members of the first place team once they are accepted and enroll in Polytechnic.

Second place team members who are accepted and enroll are promised an annual $2,000 scholarship; third place team members, $1,000. According to Dr. Noel N. Kriftcher, executive director of NYU-Poly's David Packard Center for Technology and Educational Alliances, NYU-Poly has committed $108,000 in potential scholarship to Future City winners this year.

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Daily Eagle Coverage: Teens Plan for Water Shortages, Design Cities of the Future