By Edgar Ortusiastigue, CH2M HILL associate project manager
On January 19, I had the terrific opportunity to act as a judge for the Southern Nevada Regional Future City competition. The day started with a 2.5 hour drive from beautiful Barstow, Calif. to Las Vegas, Nev. The competition started with a kickoff celebration where the kids were reminded the main purpose of the event was to have fun and they had no reason to be nervous.
I was under the impression that I was going to have more than enough time to rank/judge/comment my 6 teams (almost 4 hours) but I was wrong! It was amazing to see these kids in action; they had all their design points covered from sustainability, safety, transportation, entertainment to energy and water consumption. One team started the presentation in a foreign language because their future city was location in France; it was amazing to witness the preparation that the kids put into this event. I was so impressed. There was one team that incorporated a “natural” water treatment plant with specific plants based on the climate of their city’s location. There was another team that incorporated a “safe” elementary school with bullet proof and high-tech sensor cameras due to the events in Newtown, Conn. It is an amazing opportunity to be part of these events as a volunteer; the kids really admire and want to be engineers or scientist. It was very gratifying to me when one student asked me if I would be willing to build a machine to eliminate all plastic bottles because they pollute his park. Everybody should volunteer in their local communities, it was a great way to network, support our company’s efforts and have fun. At the end, the 5-hour round-trip drive was definitely worth it. I was reminded that we need to be more creative, think outside our boundaries, prepare and lead as a sixth grader would in a Future City competition.