The Oakwood Middle School Future City team took home a national prize at the national competition in Washington, DC.

PLAIN TWP.  A team of Oakwood Middle School eighth-graders took home a national prize last weekend at the Future City competition in Washington, D.C. 

The Oakwood team was awarded Most Innovative Design of Infrastructure Systems from the American Society of Civil Engineers at the nationwide research, design and engineering competition.

Oakwood competed against 43 teams of middle school students from around the country and parts of the world. The team of 34 eighth-grade STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) advanced to the national level after winning a regional match in January.

"I was pretty proud of them," said teacher Vanessa Board, who led the team. "To have that much pressure on you and be that poised to deliver on a national stage. To represent the state of Ohio as well as they did."

Future City charges middle school students with creating a utopian city set at least 100 years in the future. Each project must tackle a sustainability issue — this year was themed "The Power of Public Spaces" — and requires students to build a scale model of their city and a virtual city, write an essay and complete a project plan. All of the work is completed in a 3-4 month span.

Oakwood created the Icelandic city of Skotgeta. Among its many features, the eco-friendly city is powered by fusion and geothermal energy and enjoys heated hydrophobic roads. 

Three students — Zoe Rastetter, Landon Sumor and David Wellman— were responsible for presenting the project and undergoing about 4 hours of interviews with a rotating panel of experts, Board said.

"They were incredibly poised and answered the questions very well," Board said, noting that it was an intense competition.

It was Oakwood's fourth year competing and its first year making the national competition. Final results aren't yet available, but the team did not finish in the top five.

"The competition was very stiff," she said.

Oakwood was one of a few schools that sent their entire team to Washington. The team's trip was funded by Rod Meadows of Motter & Meadows Architects.

"It was amazing that all my kids were able to experience the whole aspect of being able to go there," Board said.

"I felt very blessed having the support of Rod Meadows allowing us to go and him seeing the value in education ... And how important it is to allow our kids the ability to dream and think and build."

Reach Jessica at 330-580-8322 or jessica.holbrook@cantonrep.com On Twitter: @jholbrookREP