WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Academy for Science and Foreign Language (ASFL) in Huntsville, Ala., won the IEEE-USA Best Communications System award and the grand prize at the Future City Competition National Finals on Tuesday. It is the first time in the 16-year history of the IEEE-USA award that a school won both simultaneously.
ASFL, which captured the Alabama regional championship last month, impressed the judges with their city "Villa Suave," which is set in France in the year 2121. With the overall victory, the team wins a week at U.S. Space Camp – also in Huntsville – and a $7,500 scholarship for the academy's STEM program.
Thirty-seven regional-winning teams, including two from China, participated in the finals at the Capital Hilton, just blocks from the White House. Marc Apter, who served as IEEE-USA president in 2013, presented both awards to ASFL.
St. John Lutheran School of Rochester Hills, Mich., which last year became the only school to win the national finals two years in a row, placed third for their 2166 city, "Egabrag." IEEE-USA sponsors the $2,000 prize that will go to the school's STEM program.
The Alabama team is made up of students Isabel Waring, 12; Hannah White, 14; and Alexa Huerta, 13; teacher Angela Traylor and mentor Raymond Woodson, a retired aeronautical engineer. ASFL finished third in 2015.
Before they won the grand prize Tuesday, the squad was honored with the IEEE-USA Best Communications System award. Judges and IEEE members Steve Bonk and Chris McManes thought highly of ASFL's Smart Life bracelet and forehead relay that uses electrical impulses to stimulate the brain's learning centers and allows you to understand and communicate in any language. Texting is also possible just by thinking of the message you want to send.
The award recognizes the top "strategic placement of a communications system that is both efficient and accurate."
Harbor View Academy, winner of the Texas (North) title, took second place with their 2050 city "Bedford Falls." IEEE member Jean Eason is the competition's regional coordinator. The National Society of Professional Engineers will provide a $5,000 STEM-program scholarship to Harbor View.
Future City, which was created in IEEE-USA offices in 1992, is an engineering design competition for middle school students. Under the guidance of an engineer and teacher, children create their own vision of a future city, working first on computer software and then constructing a scale model.
The competition also includes an essay about a predetermined challenge the city might face. This year's theme – "Waste Not, Want Not" – challenged the students to design a future waste management system.
IEEE-USA serves the public good and promotes the careers and public policy interests of nearly 200,000 engineering, computing and technology professionals who are U.S. members of IEEE.