Over the years, cities and towns have managed their ever-expanding piles of trash in a variety of ways, including dumping it into landfills, burning it in incinerators, or shipping it off in trucks and barges. Such waste management systems contribute to air and water pollution and can be expensive and energy intensive. Today, engineers around the world are focused on the four R’s of waste management – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot – in an effort to deal with solid waste not as trash but as a resource.
Solutions will be critical to the survival of urban environments globally. With that in mind, the 2015-16 Future City Competition is underway. The Western New York region is one of 37 from across the country participating in the competition, a national, project-based learning experience where students in grades 6 to 8 imagine, research, design, and build cities of the future. Keeping the engineering design process and project management front and center, students are asked to address an authentic, real-world question: How can we make the world a better place?
This year’s theme is “Waste not, want not.” Students will be encouraged to design waste management systems for residential use and small businesses by looking at issues such as collection, separation, processing, recycling, health and safety, energy efficiency, environmental impact and cost. They will work in a team with an educator and engineer mentor, and present their solutions and vision of their future city in a virtual city design (using SimCity software) and scale model of their city, built with recycled materials. Western New York teams will present their ideas at a regional competition Jan. 23 at Mount St. Mary Academy in Kenmore. The regional winner will represent Western New York in February at the national finals in Washington, D.C.
Teams may register by Oct. 31 at futurecity.org.