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25 Years Philadelphia Future City
Competition 2020
First Place Winners 1996
The First Future City Competition Philadelphia Region

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A National Engineers Week Program
January 18, 2020
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The 1996 winners at the 2019 Philadelphia Future City Competition
Anna Gunn-Golkin


I participated in the Future City Competition as a 12 year old 7th grader. Throughout the competition, my two teammates and I designed our city on Sim City (Classic!), researched and wrote our essay, and built our city model with at least 5 unique moving parts, lots of old toilet paper rolls, and a bottle of chrome spray-paint. We spent hours, days and weeks together coming up with a great story about our city - researching the endless possibilities the future could hold, and choreographing our presentation. By the time the national finals was complete - 6 months after we started - I had learned a ton about engineering, teamwork and leadership, hands-on skills, and gained the confidence to stand in front of a room and talk about our work. It was too much fun! I couldn't imagine doing anything other than engineering after that. Aerospace engineering specifically, because the coolest moving part on our city model was an airplane in a holding pattern circling our city, Fluke. I really enjoyed the teamwork and leadership aspect of Future City too, so the right path for me was to pursue engineering at the United States Air Force Academy. I reported in to Basic Training when I was 17, graduated 4 years later, got two masters degrees in engineering, competed Test Pilot School, and have I continue to serve as an engineer in the Air Force. All along the way - in my assignments in Colorado, Ohio, Southern California, Las Vegas, and Washington DC - I've had an opportunity to volunteer with my local Future City Competitions and give back to the organization that helped get me started on this path.
Scott Halpern

The Future City Competition holds a special place in my heart. I participated in the competition when I was in the 7th grade. The experience gave me my first exposure to engineering and science and the skill sets needed to succeed in these fields. The competition gave me an opportunity to engage in problem solving, design, hands-on building as well as oral and written presentation of my team’s work. These skill sets are critical for success in the STEM fields. In the years since the competition I have went on to pursue a career in the sciences. After graduating from high school I went on to earn a B.S. degree from University of Maryland in biochemistry. I then earned an M.S. in organic chemistry from the University of California, Irvine. For the past 11 years I have been involved in drug discovery research in the pharmaceutical industry. I am currently working on identifying new treatments for heart failure. My specialty is a field known as medicinal chemistry. Medicinal chemists make new chemical compounds (this is known as chemical synthesis) that could be used as drugs. Once we make a compound we give it to biologists who test the compound to determine how well it might work as a drug. Once we have our results we modify the structure of the molecule and give it to the biologists to test again. We continue this process in what can be described as a game of hot and cold until we can identify a molecule that meets all of our criteria for a drug. In my view, the two most important qualities needed for success in the STEM field are creativity and perseverance. Applying your creativity is important for problem solving. It is also important to realize that there is a lot of failure in the sciences. It is important to remain positive, learn from your mistakes and continue to persevere until you can accomplish your goal.
Dan Montiel

The Future Cities Competition helped me to develop the soft skills that I have found invaluable in my STEM career. The competition to me is more than just building a model or a city simulation. It involves writing an essay, responding to thoughtfully to questions and presenting, skills I use daily in my STEM career. More importantly, Future Cities involves working with a team of peers, parents, teachers and engineers. Future Cities was my first experience working with passionate, talented people to achieve something great. Working in teams is a critical life skill which has allowed me to be successful throughout my STEM career. As a father, I look forward to the day that my kids will be old enough to participate in the Future Cities competition themselves. After high school, I earned my BA in chemistry from Cornell University, PhD in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and did a four year postdoc at at Rockefeller University. I currently serve as a data scientist for New York City.
Ken Golkin, Mentor

When I am involved with STEM outreach, my overriding outlook is to transfer my enthusiasm for science and engineering to the students. I heard about the Future City Competition when my already STEM oriented daughter was starting 7th grade, I knew we had to do. Anna drafted her two best friends to join the team and convinced her science teacher Roberta Abramowitz to sign up a school team. Working with Anna on the Future City team for the 1996 competition was one of the best father daughter experiences possible. I am still proud that I got to work with three wonderful middle school students and that all three have gone on to have wonderful STEM careers. I still find Future City Competition so rewarding that I have been involved in every competition since 1996. I built the website www.futurecityphilly.org and usually I am the person who keeps it updated. I have also coordinated the Special Awards for many years.
Roberta Abramowitz, Teacher

Winning the Future Cities regional competition was definitely one of the highlights of my 30-year teaching career. Going to Washington DC for the national competition was a great thrill. Anna Scott and Dan were truly an amazing team. They displayed creativity, persistence, and scientific knowledge. The Future Cities contest is even more relevant today because we have an administration in DC that does not believe that human activity has an impact on the health and well-being of the entire planet.
Anna, Dan and Scott had a heads up opportunity to think about issues such as waste management, land usage, renewable fuels etc. when they were at Carusi Middle School. I am proud that they have all gone on to have careers in science. Lastly, Ken, I commend for your dedication to this competition.