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MWRD Commissioner Steele judges at Future City Competition

The Chicago regionals of the Future City Competition which introduces 6th, 7th and 8th grade students to en­gineering with SimCity™ software was held at the Uni­versity of Illinois at Chicago campus last weekend. The Future City Competition gives students from across the country the opportunity to design cities with simula­tion software, build scale models, write essays and give oral presentations on their city’s design.

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commission­er Kari K. Steele and five MWRD employees partici­pated in the weekend’s events. Terence Maiellaro, Senior Mechanical Engineer; Michael Zigulich, Associate Civil Engineer; and Lou Storino, Principal Civil Engineer, participated as preliminary round judges. Their role is to serve as a preliminary model and presentation judge for students’ diorama model and presentation on the day of the competition. They also have an opportunity to serve as an Essay and Computer Model Judge prior to the event where they review and score essays and Sim City computer models. As a former judge for the Future City Competition, Commissioner Steele was excited to see the creative and innovative ideas of all the students.

“Participating in the Future City Competition is just one example of the many ways that MWRD staff con­tribute to support youth and other community projects throughout the year. It is important to engage and en­courage students who are interested in science, technol­ogy, engineering and math at a young age so that they have a better understanding of the career opportunities that are available,” said Commissioner Kari K. Steele.

Michael Tom, Senior Architect, mentored Immaculate Conception School, assisting the team to build their model and preparing for the competition. Aruch Poonsapaya, AETPO II, coordinated Essay and Computer Model Judging and worked behind the scenes checking in judg­es and tabulating scores during competition.

This was the 26th annual international competition, and this year’s theme was “The Age-Friendly City.” Participants were tasked with envisioning an urban en­vironment that keeps older adults active, engaged and independent. Working in a team with an educator and STEM mentor, students present their vision of the future through a virtual city design; write a 1,500 word essay; build a scale model of their city with recycled materials; and present a short presentation to a panel of STEM professionals. U.S. regional winners will face off at the finals in Washington, DC in February, where they are joined by a growing roster of international teams, includ­ing those from Canada, Egypt and China.

“As an agency that relies on the skills and expertise of employees who have studied STEM curricula, we are proud to have the opportunity to support Future City,” said MWRD President Mariyana Spyropoulos.

In the U.S., over 40,000 students, representing 1,350 schools, take part in the Future City Competition. One of the nation’s leading engineering education programs and among the most popular, Future City has received national recognition and acclaim for its role in encour­aging middle school students to develop their interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Major funding for Future City comes from the Bechtel Corporation, Bentley Systems, Inc., Shell Oil Compa­ny, and DiscoverE. For more information about Future City, visit

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“Follow” on Twitter and Instagram @CommKSteele; and “Connect” on LinkedIn at Commissioner Kari Steele. In addition, feel free to reach out to her office at (312) 751-5694 with any questions or to discuss issues that are important to you.



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