Future City Canada

DiscoverE’s annual Future City program starts with a big question—how can we make the world a better place? To answer it, students in Grades 6 through 8 imagine, research, design, and build cities of the future that showcase their solution to a sustainability issue.

Each year, DiscoverE announces the sustainability topic and student teams identify a related challenge that an urban environment might face. Past topics have included storm-water management, urban agriculture, public spaces, and green energy. The student teams then research the topic and engineer two innovative solutions that will allow their future city's citizens to thrive. They draft an essay explaining their research and proposed solution, and they build a model of their future city using recycled materials. They then present this model and their work to a panel of judges at regional competitions held in January. The program culminates in an (optional) international competition in Washington, D.C., to showcase the students’ work.

Future City has been increasingly popular in the United States since it began in 1990, and now engages over 40,000 diverse participants from more than 1,300 schools in the United States, China, and the Middle East. In 2017, for the first time, Canadian teams also joined the program, with 58 classes in Ontario and Prince Edward Island participating.

Future City gives students the opportunity to collaborate and get creative in finding solutions to tomorrow’s problems, offering them a proactive and empowering way to think about the role they can play in driving change.

How it Works

Participants complete five deliverables: a virtual city design (using SimCity); a 1,500-word city essay; a scale model; a project plan; and a presentation (to judges if they wish to compete) at regional competitions in January. Regional winners represent their region at the finals in Washington, D.C., in February. After completing Future City, student participants are not only prepared to be citizens of today’s complex and technical world, but also poised to become the drivers of tomorrow.

The Future City program is run with the help of countless volunteers from the engineering community who serve as mentors for the student teams or who volunteer as judges at the regional competitions.

Engineering and so much more

This flexible, cross-curricular educational program gives students an opportunity to do the things that engineers do—identify problems; brainstorm ideas; design solutions; test, retest, and build; and share their results. This process is called the engineering design process. Future City brings the engineering design process directly into the classroom in an engaging way that builds students’ 21st century skills. Students participating in Future City:

  • Apply math and science concepts to real-world issues
  • Develop writing, public speaking, problem solving, and time management skills
  • Research and propose solutions to engineering challenges
  • Discover different types of engineering and explore career options
  • Learn how their communities work and become better citizens
  • Develop strong time management and project management skills

If you would like to be involved in this year’s program, either as a supervisor, volunteer, or sponsor, please contact julia.chehaiber@engineerscanada.ca.