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Local Students Take 2nd Place in Future City Competition in Novi

The Jain Society of Greater Detroit students show ways to deal with surface water and runoff in their island model.

Four students from the Jain Society of Greater Detroit religious school in Farmington Hills arrived at Monday's Regional Future City Competition in Novi right on time, despite a winter storm that closed area public and private schools. 

They left with 2nd place honors in their first-ever appearance at the annual event. First place went to St. John Lutheran in Rochester, which also received a number of special awards, including Best Design, Engineering & Construction; Best Engineered Project; Best Use of Energy; Electro-Technology Award; and the People’s Choice Award.

The Jain Society students, all of whom attend different middle schools, were among several hundred students from throughout Michigan who gathered at the Suburban Collection Showplace for the national science and engineering competition. Each team builds a city in which they would like to live more than 150 years into the future. 

The team worked for three months to create their imagined city. Kush Madhani, 13, Novi Middle School, Chintan Maheshwari, 12, Our Lady of Sorrows School in Farmington, Yug Chauhan, 12, Clague Middle School in Ann Arbor, and Rishabh Parekh, 12, Orchard Lake Middle School in West Bloomfield, told judges they used Google Hangout Internet chats as a way to work together over the past three months. 

Their model kept with the theme for this year's contest, "Rethink Runoff: Design clean solutions to manage stormwater pollution", but in an unusual way. Their city is built on an island. 

"They didn't want something easy," said Jignesh Madhani, who helped coach the students. "This deals with the dual issues of surface water and runoff." 

He and Rajesh Jain, of Farmington Hills, have engineering backgrounds and were able to guide the students as they identified problems and came up with creative solutions.

"We make sure they follow the rubrics and are adhering to deadlines," Jain said. "We also do research to make sure they are learning in this process, and make sure they are focused." 

Kush Madhani said he decided to get involved with the Future City program because he thought it was "a great opportunity to learn about how cities are built, how cities solve problems and how cities work." The team communicated really well, he said.

The biggest lesson he learned: "Cities take a long time to plan and to fix their problems." 

Students are required to design their model using "sound science and engineering principles", according to a press release issued by the Engineering Society of Detroit. In addition to the physical model, they must create a computer model and write an essay, along with presenting their model to judges during the daylong competition. 

The winning team travels to Washington, D.C. in February, to represent Michigan in the national Future City competition. 

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