Three for the future

Sequim academy’s trio vies at Future City Competition

Their numbers may be small but the future is bright for three Olympic Peninsula Academy students.

Lily Engeset, 14, Deven Biehler, 13, and Melanie Byrne, 12, make up Sequim’s team this year for the Washington State National Engineers Week Future City Competition. They’ll present a model, speech, essay and computer simulation of their city “Fanrong” against other teams from the Seattle area, Portland, Ore., and Fairbanks, Alaska, on Jan. 23, at the DigiPen Institute of Technology in Seattle. Winners advance to the national competition in Washington, D.C.

Deven, in his third year  of competing, is the only returning competitor for Sequim and his first year they took second. This is Lily and Melanie’s first time competing.

“It’s the last year I could do it and I wanted to give it a try,” Lily, an eighth-grader, said. “I’m glad I did. I learned a lot about wiring and mechanical stuff.”

Deven said it’s helped him think in a lot of different ways he “wouldn’t have ever thought of before.”

This may be Sequim’s smallest team yet, but they’ve overcome some hiccups.

Lily said early on while designing their city, their simulation city in the Sim City game exploded because they didn’t have enough educated citizens to operate their power plant.

But they’ve since revamped Fanrong, which is Chinese for prosperity, teammates said, to follow this year’s theme of “waste not, want not,” more.

Each team member worked at length on the different aspects of the competition but they came together on the model, which includes lights, fans and a voice-activated Tesla coil. Fanrong conceptually incorporates solar, wind and fission power, too, teammates said.

“We put our best effort in it,” Deven said. “We came in a few times a week and during the (Christmas) break.”

Learning Coach Lilli Hardesty leads the team for the sixth year with advice from retired engineer Paul Farley.

For more information about the Future City Competition, which encourages interest in math, science and engineering through hands-on applications, visit