The Future City Competition
Future City takes the question, 'How can we make the world a better place?'', and encourages the men and women of the future—today's 6th, 7th, and 8th graders—to answer it. Together, they incorporate the principals of engineering, including research, design, and the power of the imagination, to build up a model of their own city as a more sustainable future city.
These young participants have a number of set deliverables, and in working together, will often come to incorporate the principals of project management. This is where PMI Buffalo comes in. As these students lay the groundwork for their own future involvement in an ever more complex and technically-oriented global society, we plant the seed of project managament as a field and critical tool, knowing how important it may be to their success.
Each year the Future City Competition tackles a new area of focus: use of public space, green energy, public transportation, urban agriculture. Powering Our Future was the theme for 2018-2019, and it involved the design of a resilient power grid for their future city—one that could stand up against and aid the participants' Future City to bounce back from the effects of a natural disaster. A total of 25 teams were involved in the main competition day on January 22nd of this year, 15 of whom were present on site the day of the competition. The teams were from all over the Buffalo/Niagara and Rochester area, and ranged in size from four to well over a dozen members, and each brought different strengths and unique characteristics to the table.
Different organizations sponsored various teams, presenting the teams with the most compellingly created Cities with special awards depending on the areas in which they shined.. These designation included aspects such as 'Best Infrastructure', 'Best Project Management', and 'Best Waste Disposal'. PMI Buffalo awarded its superlative Project Management designation to St. Peter RC School, whose Future City 's name was Denki Machi. The 14 participant creators of Denki Machi were 11 through 14 years old.
This team represented exemplary project management in managing risks, assignments of tasks, and making difficult calls when faced with the decision to reduce scope in order to help hit timelines. Denki Maci's creators used a voting method to come to a consensus on any items they perceived as risks or potential failures. They had regular check-ins, indicating their focus on true cooperation and frequent communication, and used their essay as the project charter and roadmap. PMI Buffalo was also impressed by how they verified the validity of their approach through the results and processes of past winning teams and mentor resources.
Another factor in this team's selection as PMI's Best Project Management winner for 2018-2019 was the manner in which they assigned tasks. The team would meet to discuss the areas in which each member had strengths, and each participant would provide an ordered list of areas in which their interests lay, and which they wanted most to work in. The team as a whole ultimately voted on who would be assigned if there were multiple people vying for a single task that did not require multiple people, and would then assign the second favorite choice to qualified team members who may not have gotten their first choice.
Everyone was involved in handling issues or making decisions on items that arose throughout the project, requiring a change in approach, through voting and consensus. Ultimately, one of the most important distinguishing factors in St. Peter RC School's winning of the prestigious Best Project Management designation was their flexibility.
A final winning characteristic of this team could be seen through their scoping decisions. The team had to make a very difficult decision to remove an attribute of their project which would have been, visually and functionally, a large and impressive item. They took a practical approach, coming to the understanding that, at scale, the item would not be fiscally possible within a city such as theirs. In the end, they decided to remove it, while still delivering a viable product meeting their initial goals. It is decisions such as these which showcased the sophistication of this team's project management approach.
The 2018-2019 Future City Best Project Management award winners did an exceptional job over all, and we have no doubt that, among those fourteen young creators/engineers/architects of the Future City Denki Maci are many future project managers of great talent.