Ahmed – A4


I have decided to focus on Pittsburgh, specifically 15213 ie the Carnegie Mellon / University of Pittsburgh area and that surrounding.


STEP 2: Economics

Current day (2014):

  • Age: Most of the population is in their 30s to 40s
  • Race: 80/20 white to black
  • Education: Mainly high school
  • Income: 15k to 75k
  • Housing
    • 3 bedrooms
    • $500/mo rent
    • 35%+ of income
    • $50-100k worth
  • Transportation: All cars, 1-2 / household

Future (2054):

  • Age: Most of the population is college age
  • Race: 50/30/20 white to asian to black
  • Education: Pursuing bachelor’s
  • Income: 15k to 75k
  • Housing: Same, lots of shared houses
  • Transportation: Some cars, some public


STEP 3: Demographic: College students, aged 16-25

2014 forces that are positive/negative:

Overall, Pittsburgh is fairly average, especially Oakland. It isn’t a particularly poor or rich place. Most have a high school education. Statistical distributions are more or less on par with national distributions. The only thing that stands out is that rent is fairly cheap and therefore accessible to students. Otherwise, I wouldn’t say that Pittsburgh is particularly desirable or undesirable to the demographic.

2054 forces that are positive/negative:

According to the World Economic Forum’s predictions, North America will be experiencing three main forces in the future: increasing inequality, geopolitical shifts, and adaptation to climate change. Increasing inequality refers to the disappearing middle class. Due to poor educational systems, the lower class is untrained and therefore unable to rise to the middle class. Education is increasingly expensive, forcing the unlucky down into the lower class, and allowing the more fortunate to rise into the upper class. In contrast, China’s educational system is extremely effective, producing much higher achievement rates than the US. Many believe that China is or will become the world superpower. And as always, climate change will influence all decisions in the near future.

My specific predictions for Pittsburgh in 2054:

I am imagining a total restructure of the educational system. The CMU School of Design just unveiled a new curriculum heavily focused on transition design, so I imagine by 2054 this trend will catch onto the rest of the school. As the school grows as a whole in research for climate change and a national initiative to improve education, Pittsburgh will become a true college town, with the population changing to a very college-heavy distribution. The system is described in the letter below.


STEP 4: Letter (storyboard in final presentation)

Hey Mom,

Yes, I’ve been sleeping. Yes, I’ve been eating. Don’t worry about me! I know it’s not the same as your true-cooked meals, but the printed food is actually pretty good. Though I kinda wish I hadn’t volunteered for consumption upkeep. Okay, sure, plugging in the code for all the system scans and auto restore functions is pretty easy, but it’s boring as hell. Can’t wait for next month; my next rotation is with the enhancement committee.

Now before you say anything, I know that I’ve never been very good with that sort of thing. But I’ve been trying really hard to get involved and talk to students about what they think the issues really are. For the most part, the program seems to be effective. Surprising, right? I guess I come from old-school America way out in the real midwest. I was pretty dubious of the 8 year program until I was a year in. Learning with people of your generation is actually way more motivating. The level 8s are still fresh on the level 7 material, and get how to explain stuff to me. No offense to Mr. Appleby, but tenth grade calculus was rough. He didn’t even know how matrices worked. I don’t think I’ve ever even come close to having that problem since I got here. Plus, it kinda forces you to learn the material properly.

Did you know they hold you back if you aren’t prepared enough to teach? I was pretty shocked too when I got here. But honestly, it works. You actually have to know the material really well in order to teach it. Then, going to the next level is a way smoother process since you don’t have to review as much. And in a way, teaching last year’s material is a review for yourself. Sometimes it gets pretty hard if you’re not prepared to teach, but it’s helped me manage time a bit more responsibly. Plus, the review group every evening with kids in your level usually ensures that you catch up on whatever you missed.

So I’m doing pretty well. I’m on track to graduate in eight years. Next semester, they’re going to start introducing recommended careers for me, which I’m pretty excited about. I’m not really sure how the programs calculate them, but their guesses were usually pretty helpful for the last graduating class. I’ll try to write more often.

Love you!



STEP 5: final presentation




I learned a lot about how to link together forces of change. Though in retrospect, I’m not sure how feasible this system might be for 2054 (perhaps the world needs more time), I’m also not sure how to gauge time. 40 years seems like a short period of time, but the internet changed the world so drastically over the past 40 years. Who knows what could happen next? I had a lot of fun doing this particular project, but I am a little confused on why a letter is the main deliverable for these projects. Snail mail is already close to obsolete today! Regardless, I’m really interested in the future of education and am looking forward to see how we deal with this issue.


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