Harding Middle School of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, won the IEEE-USA Best Communications System Award during the National Engineers Week Future City Competition National Finals on Feb. 20. The award was presented to Harding at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill for the most "efficient and accurate communications system."
The team included students Emily O'Brien, 13; Courtney Strait, 13; and Stephanie Wenclawski, 14; engineer-mentor Gary Bishop; and teacher-sponsor Jean Oberbroeckling. Bishop is an IEEE member who works for Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids.
The Future City Competition, which IEEE-USA introduced to Engineers Week (EWeek) in 1993, is designed to encourage the future generation of engineers. Seventh and eighth grade students create their own vision of a future city, working first on computer and then constructing three-dimensional scale models. More than 1,100 schools and 30,000 students from across the United States competed during the 2007-08 season. Pilot programs are underway in Egypt, Sweden and Japan. A spin-off, "Future Cities 2020," is underway in India.
Harding earned its trip to Washington by winning the Iowa regional competition last month. Its city, "Celestial," is set in the Amazon rainforest in 2074.
Celestial's communications system features "xMax," which the students described in their city brochure as providing "a fast, non-line of sight connectivity between a user and a cell tower. Because xMax utilizes single cycle modulation, it requires significantly less radio frequency (RF) energy."
The system also features "Smart Home Programming," which can be activated from a cellular device to turn on your lights and heat, turn off your water system, notify you in case of a problem in your home, and contact a worker to make the necessary repairs.
IEEE members Amarjeet Basra of Annandale, Va., and Ananthram Swami of Silver Spring, Md., selected Harding from among the 36 teams that c
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