Rani engineers Andy Wells, Carla Fischer, and Amanda Bergstrom acted as engineering mentors for three teams from Columbia Academy (Columbia Heights) in the Future Cities competition, a national engineering competition for middle school students. They worked weekly with the students from October through January, and helped teach the students about engineering.

Skills students develop through Future Cities include the ability to work as a team; identify problems; brainstorm ideas; design solutions; test, retest and build; and share results.

Students were to design a futuristic city with an emphasis on storm water management, write a narrative explaining the storm water management practices they used, and build a scale model of a portion of their city. Finally, they prepared and gave a presentation on their design.

The teams from Columbia Academy, along with 47 other teams from across the state, presented their cities at the Minnesota state competition on Jan. 19 at the University of Minnesota. Two Columbia Academy teams came away with special awards: one for Excellence in Engineering and the other for Most Environmentally Friendly Power Source.

Minnesota’s winning team was from Grandview Middle School, Westonka. Winning teams from each state moved on to national competition in Washington, D.C., in February. The winners of the national competition were from Valley City, N.J.  The topic for 2013-14 is “Tomorrow’s Transit: Design a way to move people in and around your city.”