Contact

Cody Howard
School of Engineering
785-864-2936

KU to host middle school students for Future Cities competition

Tue, 01/21/2014

LAWRENCE — Conjure out of thin air a cutting-edge transportation system for a city: That’s the challenge for hundreds of middle school students participating in the 2014 Future City Great Plains Regional Competition, set for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Kansas Union at the University of Kansas.

The event – which will draw more than 200 sixth- through eighth-graders from Kansas, Missouri and Colorado ­– is sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers and hosted by the KU School of Engineering.

“This program is really designed to teach students about engineering, teamwork and how to problem-solve,” said Jeff Sims, program management engineer with the Kansas Department of Transportation and Future Cities Great Plains Regional Coordinator. “The competition provides students with a hands-on technique to apply what they’ve learned in math, science and research.”

Sixty-eight teams from 35 schools are registered for the competition.

This year’s theme is Tomorrow’s Transit and calls for students to use SimCity software to design a way to move people in and around a city of their imagination. Over the fall semester, teams have been busy designing a virtual city, writing a narrative of their city and then building a physical model of that city using recycled materials. At the regional competition, teams display their models and make short oral presentations before a panel of judges. They are judged in five areas: design, research essay, city narrative, oral presentation and city model.

The public is invited to view the models throughout the day as well as watch presentations from the top finalist in the afternoon.

The first-place team at the Great Plains Regional Competition will advance to national finals Feb. 19-24 in Washington, D.C. In addition, several awards honor teams for excellence in a specific area of design or for a team’s performance.

Nationally, more than 35,000 students take part in the Future City Competition at one of 37 regional competitions. The winner of the national competition receives a trip to U.S. Space Camp and an award of $7,500 for their school’s STEM program.

Great Plains Regional Competition organizers are seeking additional volunteers to ensure the competition runs smoothly. Helpers are needed any part of the day from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers will assist with a variety of tasks, including distributing T-shirts, checking in teams, measuring models, timing presentations and monitoring doors during presentations. KU students and others able to assist during any part of the day are encouraged to contact Engineering Outreach Coordinator Jacquelyn Pedigo at jpedigo@ku.edu.

Participating schools are as follows:

  • Belleville: Republic County USD 109
  • Cherokee: Southeast Junior High School
  • Concordia: Concordia Junior High School
  • Courtland: Pike Valley Junior High School
  • Eudora: USD #491
  • Fort Leavenworth: Patton Junior High School
  • Garnett: Anderson County Junior High School
  • Hutchinson: USD 308, Prosperity Elementary School
  • Lansing: Lansing Middle School
  • Lawrence: Liberty Memorial Central Middle School, South Middle School, Southwest Middle School, St. John Catholic School, West Middle School
  • Lenexa: Holy Trinity Catholic School
  • Manhattan: Frank V. Bergman Elementary School
  • Olathe: Chisholm Trail Middle School, Indian Trail Middle School, Prairie Trail Middle School
  • Overland Park: Harmony Middle School, Indian Woods Middle School, Westridge Middle School
  • Pretty Prairie: Pretty Prairie Middle School
  • Sterling: Sterling Junior High
  • Topeka: St. Matthew Catholic School, Washburn Rural Middle School

Missouri:

  • Belton: Yeokum Middle School
  • Kansas City: Raytown Middle School
  • Raytown: Raytown Central Middle School, Raytown South Middle School
  • Stover: Morgan County R1 School
  • Sturgeon: Sturgeon RV.


KU in the news
The Daily MailSat, 04/25/2015
CNNMon, 04/13/2015
Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner. See it here: http://bit.ly/1awodaa
Rock Chalk! Junior Ashlie Koehn named KU's 18th Truman Scholar
Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening.

.@KU bschool 's KIP team includes @KU _SADP students in all-ages housing project. http://t.co/c6Ss0FsWLL #KUworks http://t.co/FW0eI69uRi
Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: http://bit.ly/1awodaa Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.


One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times