The Ellis School wins 19th Annual Pittsburgh Regional Future City competition



The Ellis School beat out teams from 28 other schools to win Carnegie Science Center’s Pittsburgh Regional Future City Competition on Jan. 20 at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.

The team’s three presenters, Rowan Cain, Moira Connell and Abby Fagersten; teacher sponsor, Karen Compton; and engineer mentor, John Wojtyna won a trip to the 26th annual Future City Finals, which will  take place from Feb. 17 to 20 in Washington, D.C. The team will compete against the winners from about 40 other regional competitions. The grand prize for the finals is a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and $7,500                      from Bentley Systems, Inc. The Ellis School also won two special awards, those for Best Essay and Best Power Supply System.

The Future City Competition fosters interest in math, science, and engineering in sixth- through eighth-graders, who showcase their vision of a city design using SimCityTM software, an essay, a scale model, a project plan, and a presentation. Each year, Future City has a theme that highlights a current issue and asks the middle schoolers to investigate it and come up with solutions. Participants in this year’s Future City Competition designed innovative, forward-looking cities exemplifying “The Age-Friendly City.”  

The Ellis School’s entry was a reimagining of Oslo, Norway, decades in the future and renamed Idunn Eir after the Norse gods of youth and the elderly. It features multigenerational complexes where senior citizens live together with other residents so they do not become socially isolated. Energy is provided by solar power, tidal sails, and a geothermal plant. The students held a recycling drive to collect the medicine containers, straws and plastic lids they used to make the buildings in their model.

“All of the students had innovative and creative entries, but the students from The Ellis School wowed the judges with their work, including a detailed essay, ideas for reducing social isolation for senior citizens and an engaging presentation,” said Lisa Kosick, Education Coordinator for Carnegie Science Center and  Future City Competition Regional Coordinator. “We have high hopes for The Ellis School’s success in the finals.”

St. Bernadette School in Monroeville took second place, along with the special awards in the categories of Best Use of Factories and Most Creative Use of Recyclable Material. St. Bede School in Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze neighborhood came in third and also won the special awards for Best Management of Water Resources and Best Model.

Rounding out the top five were Marion Center Junior/Senior High School in East Mahoning Township, Indiana County, which placed fourth and won the special awards for Best Use of Fire Protection Engineering Science & Technology and Best Use of Green Construction and Ligonier Valley Middle School in Ligonier Township, Westmoreland County, which placed fifth.

Other winners of special awards were:

  • Propel East: Best City Layout and Best Land Surveying Practices 
  • Verna Montessori School: Best Futuristic City and Best Use of Nuclear Science Technology
  • Springdale Junior-Senior High School: Best Use of Ceramics and Most Energy Efficient 
  • Fort Couch Middle School: Best Integrated City and Most Effective Movable Part 
  • West Mifflin Area School District: Best Housing Development and Layout and Most Holistic Approach 
  • Triadelphia Middle School: Best Transportation System and Excellence in Systems Integration 
  • Derry Area Middle School: Most Innovative Design of Infrastructure Systems and Student Choice Award 
  • Pittsburgh CAPA: Most Effective Use of Bridges 
  • St. Edmund’s Academy: Outstanding First-Year Team 
  • Warwood Middle School: Most Effective Homeland Security 
  • Wheeling Middle School: Best Computer City Design 
  • Winchester Thurston School: Protecting the Public’s Safety and Welfare Through Competent and Ethical Engineering Practices 

The Pittsburgh Regional Future City Competition is presented annually by Carnegie Science Center as a program of the Chevron Center for STEM Education and Career Development, in partnership with the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania, the regional competition’s Platinum Sponsor.

Shell and LGA Partners are Gold Sponsors for the regional competition. The Silver Sponsors are the Allegheny County Department of Health, Air Quality Program, Clean Air Fund; AECOM; the American Society of Civil Engineeers; Bechtel; Duquesne Light Company; The Buhl Foundation’s Henry C. Frick Educational Fund; and Hatch.