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Local students win award for Hawaiian town design
Turlock Christian eighth graders demonstrate the moving components within their Hawaiian city model that was entered into the Regional Future City Competition on Saturday. Their moving models were of the public transportation hydrotrak around the vertical farm, in which a working elevator was created. Pictured left to right: Michael Uytingco, Adam Bennett and Scott Zylstra. - photo by MAEGAN MARTENS / The Journal
A tsunami resistant wall, a vertical farming unit, an underground mega mall and a hydrotrak public transportation system are just some of the futuristic, yet realistic, components three Turlock Christian students used to make their Hawaiian city, named Maka, more efficient.
Three eighth graders — Adam Bennett, Michael Uytingco and Scott Zylstra — participated in the National Engineers Week Future City Competition for the first time ever. They placed third out of 19 teams in the Northern California Region.
Zylstra said he was a little disappointed because he expected to get at least second place. His teammates, however, were surprised and happy about their third place award.
“I was excited just to be in the final five,” Bennett said.
The theme of the competition this year was “providing an affordable living space for people who have lost their home due to a disaster or financial emergency.”
Students who participated had to build a city graphically on the computer through SimCity 4 Deluxe, build a three-dimensional tabletop model of their city, write two essays describing their city and they had to present their model at the regional competition.   
The three students started their project with brainstorming a place where an actual disaster could happen and where they could really work with the environment to be more environmentally friendly, Bennett said.
They picked Hawaii for the amount of constant sunlight that is available and the actual risk of natural disasters such as volcanos and tsunamis, Uytingco said.
The natural disaster the Turlock Christian team chose to base their design on was a volcano eruption, which then caused a tsunami that destroyed the Hawaiian city.
Bennett, Uytingco and Zylstra then got to come to the rescue of the people of Maka and design a rebuilt city based on their green ideas and research. All components of their design are currently in use or are about to be used in cities around the world.
Zylstra had the idea to build a protection wall to shield Maka from potential tsunami-sized waves crashing down on the city. The wall has tsunami sensors that will raise the wall to about 200 feet to protect the city and will also send cell phone alerts to everyone that lives in the vicinity to encourage them to go underground for safety, Zylstra said.   
A vertical farm was also created in the center of the city that was designed to feed most of the people that live in Maka, Uytingco said.  
Surrounding the vertical farm is their form of public transportation called the hydrotrak, which uses water power.
The majority of their city also happens to be underground. They have an underground mega mall, industrial zone and water treatment plant. Other cities that use this underground method are Japan and Hawaii, Uytingco said.
“In a real city, it would double the space because there is a lot of room underground,” Uytingco said.  
One of their specialties they focused on in their essay, is their cube housing.  The three students like to call it “living to the third power.”
Each house is a cube, literally. They have different types of cube housing from the “bachelor cube” to the “extension cube.”
“The cubes are prefabricated, inexpensive, light weight, expands and downsizes with ease, and simple to move around,” the students stated in their essay.
The cubes are made from whole coconut husks, with floors made from cork, and windows programmed with transition metal switchable mirrors to reduce energy loss.
“Makans are healthier and happier,” the students stated in their essay. “There are no more environmentally related illnesses like asthma, allergies, and cancer. Thanks to the advancement in the field of engineering.”  
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.