Young Choose Tower and Subterranean Living for More Dedicated Open Space

Photo of 2013 Future City Participants
2013 Idaho Future City Competition participants.

The message was clear. Most children would choose to live in towers or underground in exchange for more space dedicated to recreation and food production.

That was the underlying motif of student designs at this year’s Idaho Future City™ Competition according to one of the volunteer judges, SCJ Alliance’s own Ty Morrison, AIA out of our Boise office.

“The national Future City program combines an engineering challenge with a ‘hands-on’ application,” said Morrison.

Students working in teams, along with a teacher and volunteer engineer mentor, researched ways to transport people in and around their city. They first designed their vision using software and then created a 3-D model.

“The theme of this year’s competition was transportation. For mass and moderate levels of transportation, entries included cableways, magnetic, pneumatic, and hover, with bikes and walking for personal travel from a station. Power was most frequently derived from photovoltaic, wind, hydro, hydrogen, geothermal, bio and waste transfer,” said Morrison.

What innovations did these creative students envision?

  • Pay-to-play stations for people to earn energy credits through exercise
  • Photovoltaic roadways and trees
  • Energy-harvesting shoes and sidewalks
  • Extensive subterranean development — Seattle’s Bertha and London’s tunnels are only the start!
  • All-weather bicycle suit with control, energy and waste harvest
  • Biomimicry of everything
  • “Sun-flower” based heliotropic collectors
  • Burning waste in the Earth’s magma layer
Photo of Ty Morrison, AIA
Future City Competition volunteer Ty Morrison, AIA from SCJ’s Boise, ID office.

One of the teams featured a ropeways solution, something that caught Morrison’s attention. SCJ has a Colorado office, operating under the name Engineering Specialties Group, with global expertise in ropeway transportation systems including ski lifts, gondolas, tramways, and funiculars (cable railway on an incline).

In its 22nd year nationally, and 10th year in Idaho, the Future City program is a free educational program for 6th-8th graders run entirely by volunteers.

The event, sponsored by Electronic Arts (creator of SimCity) and the National Society of Professional Engineers, was held at Boise State University and included 25 teams.

The program is designed to foster an interest in math, science and engineering through hands-on, real world applications. State winners advance to the national competition.

“There was even some thought given to my personal favorite: Permaculture. Some designs recognized the continuing risk found in monoculture food production,” Morrison enthusiastically shared. “We have much to look forward to from these creative kids.”

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