Middle school students from throughout eastern Washington, Montana and Idaho will compete Saturday, Jan. 5, at a subregional Inland Northwest Future City Competition at Washington State University Pullman.

This year, Future City is asking middle school students to respond to the challenge of “Powering Our Future” and design an electrical grid that can withstand and quickly recover from the impact of a natural disaster.

Working as a team with an educator and STEM mentor, students present their vision of the future through:

  • A virtual city design (using SimCity™ software).
  • A 1,500‑word city essay.
  • A scale model of their city (built with recycled materials).
  • A short presentation to a panel of STEM professionals.

Teams from 40 U.S. regions will present their ideas at Regional Competitions in January. Regional winners then face off in February at the final competition in Washington, D.C., where they will be joined by a growing roster of international teams, including those from Canada, Egypt and China.

“The Future City competition is great because it explores solving social science issues through engineering technology,” said Cara Morton, an instructor in WSU’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the WSU coordinator for the program. “No matter what you’re interested in, there is going to be an aspect of Future City to dive into and get excited about.”

Students in the Future City Competition learn to apply concepts from the classroom to a real‑world problem. Students also develop writing, researching and public speaking skills, in addition to sharpening project management abilities and getting a first‑hand look at how an engineer would tackle a problem.

One of the student teams competing on Jan. 5 is from Moscow Middle School, which received mentoring on their project from engineering and architecture students from Washington State University.

Saturday’s Future City Competition runs 9:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. in the PACCAR Building on WSU’s Pullman campus, and includes free tours of the university’s engineering facilities.

For more information, see the Future City website.