LIVINGSTON, NJ - Heritage Middle School's FemGineers, the school's all-female engineering club, may be too young to drive, but their ideas for the future of transportation steered them to the awards podium in the New Jersey Regional Future City Design Challenge.

Each year the Future City competition challenges middle school students to put their science, technology, engineering and math skills to work by presenting them with an engineering problem to solve. The students must research the problem, devise a solution and build a scale model of their design using recycled materials.

The theme of this year’s contest was “Tomorrow’s Transit: Design a Way to Move People in and Around Your City.” Students were challenged to investigate and develop safe and reliable methods of transportation with a limited impact on the environment.

Students used software to design a virtual city using their transportation ideas and then built an actual model out of recycled materials that cost no more than $100.

The following three cities designed by Heritage Middle School students earned awards at the competition:

  • City “Avenir Voyage,” designed by Christie Hung, Caitlin Yeung and Serena Zhao, won Healthiest City.
  • “Tsuru no Toshi,” designed by Catherine Yu, Laura Shu and Selene Li, won Best Transportation System.
  • “Kotsuhaven” earned second place overall, earning a $950 grant for the school. The model was designed by Alice Ng, Mary Yang and Jenny Zhu.

Teacher Kenneth Zushma created the FemGineers to encourage Heritage girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) related fields. In just six years, FemGineers participation has grown 500 percent, math scores on standardized tests have improved, and many of the girls are enrolling in higher-level high school math and science classes. The female students have consistently proven themselves to be problem solvers, innovators and inventors.
“I hope the girls involved stay involved,” said Principal Pat Boland. “The possibilities are endless.”