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Future City competition to take place virtually this Saturday

30th annual event asks Iowa middle school students to design a waste-free future city using the three principles of a circular economy

JAN. 18, 2022 – Middle school students from throughout Iowa will face off virtually this Saturday at the regional level of the award-winning Future Cities competition, with winners moving on to the Future City finals in February.

The national competition will feature over 45000 students representing 1,350 schools.

Now in its 30th year, Future City is asking students this year to imagine a Waste-Free Future, by designing a future city that incorporates the three principles of a circular economy.

Organizers invite students to imagine a city 100 years in the future that generates no waste and no pollution thanks to nutrients and energy flowing in a cycle of growth, decay, and reuse. This is called a circular system.

“What if cities followed nature’s circular system?” organizers ask. “What if everything was reused or taken apart and remade into something else—from the house you live in, to the food you eat, the bus or car you ride in, the roads you travel on, the battery that powers your phone, and the clothes you wear?”

All around the world, engineers, city planners, innovators, entrepreneurs, and government leaders are using the principles of a circular economy to create waste-free cities. With this issue top of mind, Future City is asking Iowa middle school students to imagine a Waste-Free Future by designing a future city that incorporates the three principles of a circular economy.

Working in teams with an educator and STEM mentor, students present their vision of a waste-free future through a 1,500 word essay; a scale model of their city (built with recycled materials); and in a short video presentation.

Teams from 40 regions, including Iowa, will answer questions from panels of STEM professionals at Regional Competitions this Saturday. Iowa regional winners then face off at the Future City Finals. Judging will be held virtually in February and winners will be announced during the Future City Award Celebration on March 23, 2022.

“Our goal at NewBoCo is to give students access to innovative and engaging STEM education,” NewBoCo K-12 Education Director & Future City Iowa Regional Co-Coordinator Samantha Dahlby said. “Future City is a fantastic program because it helps students learn how to take an active part in solving the many problems facing our state using their STEM skills.”

In 2017, for the third consecutive year, Future City received a prestigious national award for being a leading engineering education program. It was recognized by US2020 and co-founding sponsors, Chevron and Tata Consultancy Services, for its achievements and innovations in STEM education and its accessibility to underrepresented youth.

In 2016, the Future City Competition received the 2016 Henry C. Turner Prize for Innovation in Construction, presented by Turner Construction Company and the National Building Museum.

In 2015, Future City was named the grand prize winner in the UL (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.) Innovative Education Award program, receiving a $100,000 award. The UL award highlights the essential, urgent and significant value of E-STEM education.

Major funding for Future City comes from the Bechtel Corporation, Bentley Systems, Inc, and Shell.

About DiscoverE

DiscoverE is leading a growing volunteer movement that inspires and informs present and future generations to discover engineering. Our network of volunteers in the US and abroad is drawn from the DiscoverE coalition of more than 100 professional societies, major corporations and government agencies. Together we meet a vital need: introducing students, parents, and educators to engineering, engaging them in hands-on engineering experiences and making science and math relevant. For more information, visit

Press Contact
Region: Iowa
NewBoCo K-12 Education Team

Maggie Dressel, Senior Program Manager

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