December 15, 2015

New course develops future urban planners

To wrap up my series on new classes launched this fall, we head to the Tiger Woods Learning Center campus in Washington, D.C., where instructor Thomas Hailu is prepping students to build for the future. Urban planners assess needs and create plans to help new and existing communities flourish to their highest potential. In the urban planning course, scholars gain an understanding of how planners operate and the role they play in helping communities thrive.

Through science and math concepts, students walk step-by-step through the engineering design process: identifying problems, brainstorming ideas, designing solutions, testing, retesting, building and sharing results. Students are introduced to the art of urban and city planning while learning how to create safe, organized and enjoyable lifestyles for community residents.

Mr. Hailu teaches a new curriculum he created with fellow instructors Ian Esmilla, Ashley Bedell, Dalyna Lam and Mark McGlone. The course is called Future Cities, in which students apply core concepts from the TWLC’s alternative energy course in order to build a simulated city of the future that will rely on sustainable building practices and alternative energy sources. Students start by learning about technical concerns with the use of land along with the protection and use of the environment. As the course continues, students learn about the design of the urban environment, including air, water and the infrastructure passing into and out of urban areas.

Using the engineering design process, students design a digital city using SimCity software, then, using architectural drawings and CAD software, build a scale-model city made only from recyclable materials. Students recently learned about what it takes to develop a city and make it successful and are currently developing their virtual cities. While working on increasing the citizens that reside in their towns, they are also becoming aware of the needs of the residents to insure they are happy. This includes thinking through public transportation systems, schools, taxes, employment for residents, pollution, etc. 

“The course is extremely special because it allows our students to have an opportunity to get exposure into different professions like architecture and civil engineering while also having fun,” Hailu says this about the urban planning class. “In addition, it also allows the students to understand how their town or city is structured and how that influences a lot of the elements around it.”

These students are the builders of tomorrow. As they learn about urban planning and think critically about their own communities, we hope to kindle their passion to help the world thrive. 

Learn more about the students and programs of the Tiger Woods Learning Center.