Mentor Spotlight: Engineering Mentor encourages students through Future City


STEM learning is critical to a 21st century education. In order to prepare students to meet these future workforce demands, it is important to spark an interest in engineering today. That is where Future City comes in. Future City is an educational engineering competition for middle school students that combine a stimulating engineering challenge with a “hands-on” application to present their vision of a city 150 years in the future.

Participation in this competition:
• Fosters engineering skills, such as teamwork, communication and problem solving skills;
• Provides interaction among students, teachers and engineer mentors;
• Informs the community about the multi-disciplines within the engineering profession;
• Inspires students to explore futuristic concepts and careers in engineering.

This flexible, cross-curricular educational program gives students an opportunity to do the things that engineers do; identify problems, brainstorm ideas, design solutions, test, retest and build, and share their results. This process is called the engineering design process. With this at its center, Future City is an engaging way to build students’ 21st century skills. Chris Lewis is a mentor for Future City, and speaks about his experience with working with the leaders of tomorrow.

What is your role and responsibility in Future City?
Engineering Mentor. [I’m] responsible for ensuring that the kids get plenty of exposure to the field of study and arrange for contacts of mine to be interviewed on the subject of transportation.

What have you learned from this experience as a mentor?
When working with Junior High Students, it is no different than working with adults. [The idea is] to keep them focused, keep the deadlines short and sweet, activity level high, reward great behavior and reward making deadlines with clear deliverables. [I’ve learned to] ensure that the engineering process is worked into the picture by allowing kids to fail, think and rebuild from failure to making it a success.

What are the benefits for students competing in Future City?
Experiencing the engineering process, working in groups, experiencing both successes and overcoming inevitable failures of thoughts/theories and designs, whether it would be in the SimCity™, Essay Writing, model building, or presentation skills. The opportunity for three of our kids to stand up in front of a large audience and pitch their ideas is so very invaluable to their future.

Learn more about the Future City Competition. You can also sign up to become a volunteer or mentor today!