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Future City

2023-2024: Electrify Your Future

This year’s Future City Competition will challenge your middle school students to design a 100% electrically powered city with energy generated from sources that keep their citizens and the environment healthy and safe.

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How can we make the world a better place?

Starting with the question, “How can we make the world a better place?” 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students imagine, research, design, and build cities of the future that showcase their solution to a citywide sustainability issue.

Important dates

How to be successful

A Future City team demonstrates their city model for a judge

Competitive deliverables

City Essay (50 points)

Teams describe the unique attributes of their city and their solution to the annual challenge (1,500-word max.)

City Model (60 points)

Teams build a physical model of their city (in one piece or multiple segments) using recycled materials and include one moving part.

City Presentation (50 points)

Teams have seven minutes to present their city’s futuristic innovations and bring them to life.

City Question and Answer (42 points)

Teams answer questions for a panel of STEM professionals.

Project plan (10 points)

Teams develop and use a project plan to help them stay organized and focused.

Future City Competition group holding up their champion trophy behind their city model

How you can help

You can volunteer to mentor student groups in your local middle schools. Or you can volunteer to judge deliverables like the City Essay, City Presentation, and City Model virtually per your availability, or judge the City Q&A sessions live, virtually. Scores from multiple judges will be combined and averaged. Below is a sample schedule for the competition day.


Our Regional Competition will be held at:

Prairie Point Middle School
8015 Kirkwood Blvd SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

We highly recommend it. Engineers, architects, and other technical professionals bring practical experience and advice on designing and building the city. We want students to understand how technology impacts our lives. Because of the nature of the competition, a mentor from the engineering community is preferred, but a mentor can be anyone involved in a technical profession.

Each team is required to have a mentor either way, as the Official Team format includes three student presenters, one educator, and one mentor. Mentors can be engineers, technical professionals, architects, urban planners, city managers, or others who work in the engineering and technical community.

The registration fee is waived for Iowa organizations.

For each team, there will be some cost in building the city model, and perhaps a small cost for presentation materials. There is a $100 limit per team for all model and presentation materials, whether direct or in-kind. Schools may solicit support from local community organizations. The model requires students to use recyclable materials, which doesn’t count toward the $100 limit.

It is also permissible for the engineer volunteers to generate or solicit support.

A Competition Expense Form is required from each team  Make sure to bring this completed form and all receipts with you to the Regional Competition.

Teachers spend approximately 35-45 hours on the competition. Of course, all teams and coaches are different, but this is a reasonable range to expect. It is the teacher’s responsibility to schedule time for the students and the engineer-volunteer to work together and to oversee work done on the project.

Estimates are:

  • Design City: 18 to 20 hours
  • Build Model: 20 to 30 hours per student team member
  • City Description: 8 hours
  • Presentation: 7 hours

Typically, most engineers or mentors devote approximately 12–14 hours. The engineer mentor should be available to provide advice and technical assistance to the students. It is hoped that he or she will be available whenever the students work on the project.

Yes, the Iowa Region permits up to 4 teams from a single school or organization to attend the Regional Competition.

Teams come in all sizes—a whole class, a group of 10 students, or 3 students. As you near competition time, you’ll need to identify the three students who will officially present the team’s work at the Regional Competition.

Absolutely! We strongly encourage all students to attend. However, only the three presenters are eligible for Special Awards and advancing to Nationals if selected.

Generally, teams must be registered online by the end of October.

Each registered school will receive up to two codes which will allow them to download the SimCity software online. Additional codes may be requested by emailing, but they are not guaranteed.

Instructions are provided on the Future City National Website, through webinars, and also at Future City resources and the SimCity website.

Great resources include:

  • Local Companies related to the theme
  • Technical/Engineering Firms
  • City/County Officials or
  • Engineers
  • PTA
  • Parents
  • Sponsors
  • National Engineering and Professional organizations
  • If all else fails, contact us!

According to the National Future City Competition Program Handbook, only the top-scoring team from an organization is allowed to advance to the final round of the Regional Competition. We have encountered multiple top-scoring teams coming from the same organization in the past, and this is part of the reason why we have a limit of 4 teams per organization being allowed to compete at the Regional Competition. We want to ensure organizations across the state have the best opportunity to be represented.

Our official name is Future City Iowa. We are a 501(c)3 charitable organization under NewBoCo; all donations are tax-deductible. Our IRS determination letter is available upon request. Please consider contributing!

2023 Special awards winners

  • Best City Essay: Marigna from Taft Middle School in Cedar Rapids
  • Best City Presentation: Bền Bỉ from Take Action United in Cedar Rapids
  • Best City Model: Luha from Form Function Studio in Cedar Rapids
  • Best Land Surveying Practices: Isla de Cambio from Franklin Middle School in Cedar Rapids
  • Most Creative Use of Recycled Materials: Osiris from Franklin Middle School in Waukee
  • Most Diverse Infrastructure: De Mitigar from Evans Middle School in Ottumwa
  • Most Innovative Power Distribution/Communication System: KuaPua from Taft Middle School in Cedar Rapids
  • Best Future City Project Plan: Wild Pines from Franklin Middle School in Cedar Rapids
  • Innovative Transportation Award: Kenaikan from Form Function Studio in Cedar Rapids
  • Most Innovative Stormwater and/or Floodplain Management: Soul from South Middle School in Waukee
  • Most Robust Solution for Flooding and Related Water Contamination: Kenaikan from Form Function Studio in Cedar Rapids.
  • Most Innovative Use of Renewable Energy: Delta from McKinley Middle School in Cedar Rapids

2023 Top 5 finalists

  • Marigna from Taft Middle School in Cedar Rapids
  • St. Rio from Franklin Middle School in Cedar Rapids
  • Rahlia from Harding Middle School in Cedar Rapids
  • Luha from Form Function Studio in Cedar Rapids
  • Bền Bỉ from Take Action United in Cedar Rapids

2023 Iowa regional winner

Marigna from Taft Middle School in Cedar Rapids

They will go on to represent Iowa at Future City Nationals in Washington D.C.!

3 Future City Iowa winners pose and smile behind their city diorama

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