Freese and Nichols Engineers Inspire Students to Explore Sustainable Energy

Imagine, design, build — and explain — an all-electric city?

That was the annual Future City competition’s challenge for young students this year, and Freese and Nichols engineers in North Carolina and North Texas helped organize, judge and mentor teams in their area competitions.

To meet this year’s theme of “Electrify Your Future,” students designed their cities, then built a model from recycled materials (to keep the budget low), wrote an essay about their project and presented their work to judges who were volunteers from STEM-related professions.

Future City competitions are held across the United States and several countries abroad. While the program aims to inspire students in grades 6 through 8, a “junior competition” also provides opportunities for elementary schoolers.

Our staff’s involvement demonstrates their commitment to our “Serve Always” value, as well as their dedication to their communities and profession.

Our North Carolina Volunteers

The North Carolina regional competition drew teams from more than 40 middle schools to the North Carolina State University campus in Raleigh in January.

Kyle Horsham, a member of the Water Resource Design team in our Charlotte office, mentored the Stem Skool, Inc., team whose city, Serenia, placed 5th overall and won the “Best Project Plan” specialty award (plus $650 for their school). They used wind, wave, solar and geothermal energy to electrify their city while also preserving the native culture. This was Kyle’s second year coaching a winning team.

Brian White, our Water/Wastewater Master Planning Group Manager for the Southeast U.S., served on the event’s Steering Committee for the fifth year.

Krista Paredes and Sam Beavans, both Transmission & Utilities in our Raleigh office, volunteered as specialty judges focused on “Innovative Water Reuse.”

“Being able to mentor a team and see their smiling faces as they are recognized for their hard work is what also makes this program so special and rewarding,” Kyle said. “The students are already planning for next year and told me that I am not allowed to mentor another team except for them! Saying goodbye to the students was the hardest part of the competition after working together over the past couple of months.”

Krista said that “The event showed the talent and promise of the next generation of engineers. Everyone agreed it was a very rewarding day, and we are especially proud of the success of Kyle’s team.”

Our North Texas Volunteer

More than 80 teams of fourth- and fifth-graders competed in the North Texas regional Future City Junior Competition held at the Tarrant County College campus in downtown Fort Worth in late January.

Devan Ruiz, with Transmission & Utilities in our Frisco office, served as a special awards judge, questioning students during their presentations and helping determine winners of 16 awards.

“It was wonderful to see the passion that the students had in their design as well as their unique ideas for the future,” she said.

Devan got involved by answering a call for volunteers from her Texas Society of Professional Engineers chapter.

“This was my first time involved, and I plan to continue helping out at this event in the future,” she said.