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Engaging young minds in designing future cities

Dec 2008 | No Comment

Scott Lofgren

Scott Lofgren

Global Director,
Bentley Systems
BE Careers Network

What challenges did you face while implementing Future Cities India 2020 competition in India?

It wasn’t that we faced challenges, but rather, we saw the need to make some changes to the program in order to customize it to the needs of India. However, we received assistance from two of the people who started the Future City Competition in the U.S., so we were able to build on those successes. The competition was new when we brought it to India, so we did have the normal start-up tasks like informing the schools, recruiting mentors, and so on. Also, the school calendar year in India is slightly different than it is in the U.S., so we had to tailor the schedule. Future Cities India 2020 is geared to high school students rather than middle school students, the competition uses real-world engineering software, as opposed to SimCity, the gaming software used in the U.S. program, This meant that we had to ensure there were computers to run the software.

There are many infrastructure-related challenges in Delhi, how do you decide on the specific themes?

We look for a challenge that is relevant to the students, one that can inspire them to find a solution they would like to see implemented. Another factor is that each student’s time commitment is limited to about 100 hours of teamwork. Selecting a challenge that can be completed in that amount of time is an imperative in the selection process.Every year we document about five possibilities and then pick the most appropriate from among them, taking into account the Bentley software products that would best assist the students. After consultation with government officials and local engineering companies, a challenge is selected.

How did you decide to have the focus on high school students for this competition?

We developed the competition in collaboration with Shri. Kapil Sibal, Minister for Science & Technology & Earth Sciences, and he suggested that we focus on 11th grade students. The ability of these students to grasp and solve real-world problems, using real-world data and software used by engineers worldwide, was evident. In addition, students in this grade level are eager to win scholarships and, therefore, are highly motivated to compete.

Are there any plans to take the competition to other cities in India?

We still plan to expand the competition, but expansion within India is contingent on sponsorships or partnerships with the Department of Science & Technology, nongovern- mental organizations, and commercial firms. We are actively working on our partnerships.

Are there any plans to extend the competition to graduate-level students ?

Expanding the competition to include universities is being considered. The timetable of semesters makes the scheduling of the competition more challenging. We are working with IIT Delhi, Civil Engineering Department on a demonstration project for university students. Our plan is to demonstrate the project at the Jan. 17, 2009, finals.

Will it be possible to use the ideas that have come up during these competitions in actual projects?

Every year we have very distinguished judges evaluate each team’s work. It includes representatives of national and city planning authorities, commercial engineering firms, and educators. The ideas and approaches developed by these student teams will certainly have an impact on the solutions to the various challenges that are actually implemented, as well as on the way engineering is taught in the schools.

BE Careers Network – Supporting the ‘future’

The BE Careers Network offers a comprehensive and economical software program, a balanced learning approach including online self serve training, and a professional network that promotes a brighter future for students, the profession, and the world. It helps to integrate Bentley products, the tools of the designer and engineering trades, into the classroom.For students, the it helps to prepare for a career in the AEC/geospatial industry. The program offers students a comprehensive software portfolio, 24×7 OnDemand self study technical training, professional networking, and much more to compliment their education as well as offer a competitive edge when looking for a job.For the industry, it is focused on producing career ready graduates, by collaborating with the industry to ensure the programs in middle schools, high schools, community college/trade schools, and universities match the industry needs.

www.becareers.org

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