January 29, 2022

ATC employees volunteer to judge Future City Competition

American Transmission Co. employees participated as judges in the annual Wisconsin Regional Future City Competition hosted by STEM Forward. Students from 49 teams representing 21 schools across Wisconsin competed in this year’s event. 

Future City is a project-based learning program where students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades imagine, research, design and build cities of the future. Each city must provide a solution to a design challenge. This year’s challenge asked teams to design a waste-free city using the principles of a circular economy based on three design principles: eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials at their highest value, and regenerate nature. The challenge reinforced a transition to renewable energy and materials, perfect for ATC’s employee volunteers to consider when judging. 

The competition required each team to produce a 1,500-word essay, scale model of their city built with recycled materials, a project plan, a short video presentation and a live, online interview session with a panel of technical judges. Five employees participated as judges spanning each section of the competition.

ATC employees Devonne Wilhoit, senior data analytics project manager, and Cerise Reed, senior desktop administrator, participated as judges for the special Project Planning Award, sponsored by the Project Management Institute. Wilhoit said, “It’s impressive to see kids at this age thinking about things that are career related and how they are putting project management skills, such as scope, schedule and cost, into action.” The city that was selected for the Project Planning Award was Project X created by the team from Chilton Area Catholic School.

Lanida Chang, consultant strategy and initiative manager, volunteered to judge team essays, videos and the interview sessions. She was impressed by the cities designed, caliber of presentations and noted, “Most, if not all of the teams were using renewable energy: wind, solar, hydro, and even steam from a volcano to power their cities. Many also mentioned battery storage. One team had a windmill as their required moving part. It was pretty cool to see middle school students with an awareness and understanding of what energy production and storage look like.”

“STEM Forward is thrilled to host the Wisconsin Regional Future City Competition each year,” said Heather Dummer Combs, STEM Forward program manager. “It is our hope that participation in this amazing program sparks an interest in STEM for middle school students and perhaps pursuit of a STEM career. We truly cannot do this without the dedicated STEM professionals that volunteer their time to mentor or judge the teams’ future cities.”

We are proud of our employees’ commitment to help provide that spark of interest in STEM careers for students involved in the competition and congratulate all the winning Wisconsin teams. Glen Hills Middle School was the overall winner and will compete at the Future City Finals on April 7, 2022, with other regional team winners from all over the world.

Congratulations to Glen Hills Middle School and good luck in the Finals!