Ohioan Wins Future City Alumni of Year

The 2014/2015 National Future City Alumni of the Year is Michael Irwin, of Columbus, who is a water resources engineer for ARCADIS, an international engineering design and consulting firm.

Each year, the National Engineers Week Future City Competition by Discover e™ gives this award to a former student who participated in Future City as a middle-schooler and went on to apply this experience in a way that shaped his life. Irwin receives his award and speaks at the national competition in Washington D.C. on Feb. 17, 2015.

Irwin competed in the Future City program in 2004 and 2005, when in middle school in the Ashland City school system. As a college student at The Ohio State University, he volunteered as a judge for the Future City Ohio Regional Competition. Ten years after his middle school experience, in 2014 and 2015, Irwin was honored to serve as an engineering mentor for the Graham Expeditionary Middle School in Columbus.

According to Irwin, “My middle school experience with the Future City Competition™ was the first time I really thought about becoming an engineer. The planning and problem-solving that went into our project fit well with my interests and I was excited to think about engineering new technologies. Future City helped me discover engineering, which has become such an important part of my identity.”

Irwin says he continues to support Future City because it is a worthwhile experience for young students. The unique perspective students gain is very different from what they do in a typical classroom, can be applied outside the classroom and the hands-on format is great for learning. Students also learn teamwork and creativity to apply to whatever field they go into.

According to Irwin, the project of figuring out how to make a moving part function in a model city turned out to be a process that he still enjoys in his job today, except that now, his projects help provide safe drinking water and healthy environments for people in Columbus and across the country. He designs water and wastewater treatment systems for municipalities and other clients.

The Future City Competition™ is a national, not-for-profit engineering education program. Across the country, more than 40,000 students from 1,350 schools are participating in the 2015 competition. The Ohio regional competition is sponsored in part by PPG, American Electric Power, Sigma-Aldrich, Xylem, CSCC, Ohio EPA, Ohio University’s Russ College of Engineering and others. The Ohio region winning team from Batavia Middle School will participate in the national finals in Washington, D.C. next week

To learn more about participating or volunteering for the Future City Competition™ Ohio program, visit: http://futurecity.org/ohio.


The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1972 to consolidate efforts to protect and improve air quality, water quality and waste management in Ohio. Since then, air pollutants dropped by as much as 90 percent; large rivers meeting standards improved from 21 percent to 89 percent; and hundreds of polluting, open dumps were replaced with engineered landfills and an increased emphasis on waste reduction and recycling.

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