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SAN ANTONIO (May 23, 2018) — Ten student groups competed fiercely on Tuesday for a chance to win the ‘Mayor’s Cup’ in Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s inaugural STEM challenge, with three teams taking home awards.
The Mayor’s K-12 Smart City Challenge offers students an opportunity to learn about the SA Tomorrow Plan, a planning blueprint for the city’s future that accounts for population and demographic projections. The student presentations offered solutions on how to alleviate traffic congestion. The Mayor’s Cup went to L.E.E High School students, whose group, called “Talaria, Transport and Transit,” pitched the judges on their idea to improve transit technology, add additional bus routes, increase route frequency, and incentivize ridership.
“The Smart City Challenge is a way for us to engage our future leaders on what kind of city they want to call home,” Mayor Nirenberg said. “The transportation solutions they brought to the table showed us that not only do they care deeply about exploring innovative solutions, they’re also eager to connect with our industry partners and develop the skills they need to enter the workforce.”
The ten students groups, representing four school districts and charter schools, presented their ideas to a panel of six judges at the San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology, located at Port San Antonio.
Jim Perschbach, interim president and CEO of Port San Antonio said the launch of both SAMSAT and SASTEMIC at the Port have “impacted the lives of hundreds of students throughout San Antonio thanks to the STEM-based programs they provide to area school districts.”
“We are thrilled that Mayor Nirenberg has brought the K-12 Smart City Challenge inaugural competition to the Port in partnership with these two great organizations—highlighting the efforts that are taking place to inspire and prepare our community’s upcoming generation of tech innovators,” he added.
Judges included representatives from USAA, StandardAero, the City of San Antonio’s Sustainability and Innovation Offices, SAMSAT and the Learning Company at the Alamo Colleges District. The challenge connected teams to industry mentors, bridging education and workforce development efforts.
“The approach the students took uses the same quick loss processes that businesses like USAA use to address problems and potential solutions,” said Kristina Tomasetti, Strategic Innovation Director at USAA and competition judge. “These skills and their ability to present them to an audience not only set them up for college but for internships and future careers in business, science, technology and more.”
The John Jay High School team, which took second place, featured a proposal for smarter traffic signals. Hawthorne Academy students offered a solution to traffic congestion featuring light-rail ‘travel pods’ on the downtown corridor of Broadway.
Half a dozen community sponsors helped make the event possible, including SAMSAT, SASTEMIC, Communities in School, the San Antonio STEM Council, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Matthew C. and Catherine A. Reedy Fund.