South Carolina Regional Future City Coordinators Taylor Rice, with Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, left, and John Hutchens, with the University of South Carolina Aiken (USC Aiken), center, announce the winners of this year’s virtual Future City Regional Competition.
Doryan Broadwater, a senior at USC Aiken, right, assists with the event.

AIKEN, S.C. – A team from a middle school in Spartanburg, South Carolina took first place in the 19th annual Future City Regional Competition on Jan. 22, accomplishing the mission to design and build a model city with a waste-free future.

McCracken Middle School advances to the Future City Competition National Finals in Washington, D.C. next month. The top team at that event receives $7,500 for its school’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program, plus a trip to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

EM Savannah River Site contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) and the University of South Carolina Aiken held the regional competition for sixth, seventh and eighth grade students virtually.

“I am hopeful the students recognize competitions like Future City can lead to a highly beneficial experience that can last a lifetime,” said Buford Beavers, an SRNS engineering department manager. “Our country’s success will be determined by students like these who have been participating in this amazing, multi-month project.”

Future City Regional Competition Volunteer Kelly Schepens judges a model and presentation given by students from Merriwether Middle School, North Augusta, South Carolina. That team took second place in the competition.
Future City Regional Competition Volunteer Kelly Schepens judges a model and presentation given by students from Merriwether Middle School, North Augusta, South Carolina. That team took second place in the competition.

Merriwether Middle School of North Augusta, South Carolina took second place in the regional competition, and the Dreams Imagination & Gift Development Program of Williston, South Carolina placed third.

Teams were asked to design a futuristic city using the three principles of a circular economy: designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use and regenerating natural systems.

“Every year I’m impressed with the hours of work that typically goes into each city,” said Taylor Rice, who works with the SRNS education outreach division and coordinates the regional competition. “I admire their dedication and resolve to work as a team under the helpful guidance of a teacher and mentor.”

Each team of students was judged by panels of volunteers from STEM and design fields on deliverables that included a 1,500-word essay, a scale model with a $100 budget and a seven-minute video presentation highlighting the team’s creativity, ingenuity and communication skills. Use of recycled materials for the model was encouraged.

Though Future City is a competitive event for more than 45,000 students from 1,500 middle schools in the U.S., teams from other countries are encouraged to participate in the competition. Canada, China and Nigeria will send teams to this year’s finals.