School of Engineering announces Future City competition winners

LAWRENCE — Hundreds of middle school students, their teachers and mentors were at the University of Kansas Jan. 21 for the annual Future City Competition – Great Plains Regional. But only one team – Sassafrassia, from Leawood Middle School in Leawood – walked away with the top honor and a trip to the national finals in Washington, D.C.

The annual Great Plains Regional competition, sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers and coordinated by engineers at the Kansas Department of Transportation, lets middle school students in Missouri and Kansas design and build a city of the future to address a specific engineering challenge. Students get to use SimCity Deluxe software to plan their city and use recycled materials to build a tabletop model of their metropolis. The participants make oral presentations of their ideas before panels of professional engineer judges.   

The Future City of Sassafrassia focused on perfecting and harnessing nuclear fusion as a chief power source for its residents. The Leawood Middle School team will present its design and model during the national competition sponsored by the National Engineers Week Foundation on Feb. 18-22. The student presenters are Joey Holliday, Hannah Motley and Robert Tenny. Additional student team members are Miles Green, Katie Hull, Roxanna Hamidpour, Julia Lytle, Sean McCray, Deven Pandya, Anna Song, and Anja Tonkovic-Capin. Their teacher is Tish Varraveto. Their engineering mentor is Ralph DeGrutolla.

A variety of awards are determined at the regional competition and are presented to teams that excelled in a particular aspect of the event. In addition, the top five teams at the regional event receive cash awards for their schools from the KU School of Engineering and the Kansas State University College of Engineering to further encourage math and science education. Team members of the winning group, in addition to receiving a trip to the national finals, each receive a $1,000 scholarship from the KU School of Engineering to study engineering at KU after they graduate from high school.

More than 30,000 students across the United States take part in this design challenge each year. Students, teachers and mentors begin their Future City journey in September and must complete several projects and objectives as part of the competition.  Each aspect of the competition – such as the design phase and the written report – counts toward the team’s total score.  The presentation at the regional competition counts for up to 22.5 percent of a team’s score. Grand prize for the national winner is a trip to U.S. Space Camp. Several additional prizes and honors are awarded at the national finals.

View a photo gallery of the 2012 Great Plains Regional Future City Competition.


A complete list of winners and awards:


First place

Sassafrassia, Leawood Middle School, Leawood

Student Presenters: Joey Holliday, Hannah Motley, and Robert Tenny; Student Team Members: Miles Green, Katie Hull, Roxanna Hamidpour, Julia Lytle, Sean McCray, Deven Pandya, Anna Song, Anja Tonkovic-Capin

Teacher: Tish Varraveto

Mentor: Ralph DeGrutolla


Second Place

Punarjanma, West Middle School, Lawrence

Students: Maame Britwum, Trenna Soderling, Grace Eason, Cadence Learned, Bennett Haase-Divine

Teacher: Kate Welch

Mentor: Stacey Lamer


Third Place

Palekaiko, Southwest Middle School, Lawrence

Students: Elliott Abromeit, Mikey Corbett, Matt Roe, Joaquin Dorado-Mariscal, Noah Christilles, Ethan Kallenberger

Teacher: Danielle Lotton-Barker

Mentor: Christopher Storm


Fourth Place

Joule, Trail Ridge Middle School, Lenexa

Students: Brandon Ault, Rebecca Carroll, Jake Robinson, Clayton Feldman, Hallie Ingraham, Lauren Kruckenberg, Stephen Nachsheim, Bria Northrup, Gage Oberheu, Tevyn Pak, Reagan Walsh, Zach Ziegenhorn

Teacher: Vonda Morris

Mentor: Leigh Ann Carroll


Fifth Place

Windigstadt, Morgan Co. R-1, Stover, Mo.

Students: Heather Fields, Garrett Louiselle, Destinee Wilson, Remington Verts

Teacher: Kim Buck

Mentor: Mike Unger


Other awards and distinctions

Best Named City, sponsored by Engineers Club of Kansas City

Tight-Anium City, Raytown Middle School, Raytown, Mo.

Best New School or Teacher, sponsored by Missouri Society of Professional Engineers

NSV City, Ken Baremore, teacher; Selvidge Middle School, Ballwin, Mo.

Most Innovative Transportation System, sponsored by KC Chapter Institute of Transportation Engineering

Lardarello, Lansing Middle School, Lansing

Most Innovative Fuels for Transportation, sponsored by PEC Engineers

Independence, Jefferson West Middle School, Meriden

Best Oral Communications, sponsored by Parsons Brinkerhoff

Fumidusinus, West Middle School, Lawrence

 Balance of Technology with Social Issues Award, sponsored by Society of Women Engineers

Flotason, Concordia Junior High, Concordia

Best Written Communications, sponsored by American Society of Mechanical Engineers

Bellewood, Republic County Junior High, Belleville

Infrastructure Award, sponsored by American Public Works Association - Heart of America Section

Super Snoopy, Indian Trail Middle School, Olathe

Mother Earth Award, sponsored by GBA Architects, Engineers

Gravinetix, Raytown Central Middle School, Raytown, Mo.

 Future Fuels Improving Transportation, sponsored by Burns & McDonnell

Thunder Valley, Harmony Middle School, Overland Park

Innovations in Transportation Infrastructure, sponsored by HNTB

Serendipity, Prairie Trail Middle School, Olathe

Camelot Award for Safest City, sponsored by Engineers Foundation of Kansas,

Hidden Valley Ranch, Raytown Middle School, Raytown Mo.

Building a World of Difference Award, sponsored by Black & Veatch

Conturum, California Trail Middle School, Olathe

University Award, sponsored by Kansas State University College of Engineering

Geneva, McPherson Middle School, McPherson

Deans’ Choice Award, sponsored by University of Kansas School of Engineering

SAL City, Reno Valley Middle School, Nickerson

People’s Choice Award – selected by student participants, sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers

R.A.N. Diego, Prosperity Elementary School, Buhler