The IEEE Chicago Section once again sponsored an award for Future Cities this year. Future Cities is the competition for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders where students design their version of a future city with simulation software, build scale models, write essays, and give oral presentations. The Chicago Regional day of the competition was Saturday, January 22, 2022. It needed to be virtual again this year like it was last year. We normally have between 20 and 30 teams competing in the Chicago Regional. This year, there were only 8 teams from seven schools that made it to that final day of competition. Last year in 2021, there were only 7 teams. Obviously, the virtual requirement coupled with their own school’s pandemic policies placed a severe burden on the students. All the students on those teams that made it to that final day deserve admiration.

In addition to the main event judging, 16 special awards were provided by 13 different professional societies from Chicago and 2 national organizations. Our Chicago Section sponsored an award for the “Best Electrical/Electronic Solution for Improving the Quality of City Life”. Our award considers innovative thinking in five categories pertaining to the use of electricity. Serving as judges for the IEEE were Norman Phoenix (lead judge), Gary Oswald, and Andrew Schantz.

The IEEE award was given to the student team from Wood Dale Jr. High School with their city called “Greater Papyrus”. Individual plaques and a $25 Amazon Gift Card were given to the three presenting students along with a large plaque for the school to display. Wood Dale Jr. High also won Best Geotechnical Analysis, Great Engineering Feats, Project Management, Best Q & A, and Best Presentation as well as taking First Place in the overall competition. As the First Place winner, Wood Dale Jr. High went on to represent the Chicago Region at the National Competition.

In addition to our three IEEE judges, they always need preliminary judges for the initial part of the main competition. The Chicago Regional Future City Competition gives the judges 1 PDH toward their Professional Engineering License continuing education requirement. It’s just one more reason to consider volunteering next year when we all hope the competition will return to in person.

By Norm Phoenix