The future is now for a handful of elementary, junior and senior high school students from Michigan. They spent their entire summer working on a cutting edge research project, which offers hands-on experience in a classroom setting.

The students are Bryce Dangler, 17, a Clare High School senior; Jaden Gavenda, 16, a junior at Ashley High School; Aiden Judge, 15, a Shepherd High School sophomore; Zach Nelson, 18, a senior at Alma High School; and Mohamed Abdelgawad, 12, an 8th grader at West Intermediate School in Mount Pleasant.

Since June 20, these students have been putting in 20-hour weeks on this project at CMU's Engineering and Technology Building.

The students are creating a "Smart City", which is a place in which cars, buildings, busses and hospitals can communicate with each other using computer chips.

Smart Cities don't exist, and remain a mere concept, yet each of these students is engineering ways so that the concept could eventually become a reality.

"What we're doing here on a smaller scale could also be projected out to a bigger scale and go real world," said Abdelgawad, who a few months ago was in seventh grade. "The overall plan is to have a car that can go through the streets, while perfectly maneuvering without having any crashes or any mistakes, being connected through the internet or whatever signal you want, and then relaying to, let's say, buildings on the side of the road or other cars, all at the same time while moving at the speed of a normal car."

The class, called the Pre-College Summer Scholars Program, wraps up at CMU in a few weeks. It was possible thanks to a $49,818 grant from the National Science Foundation.

When the class ends, each of the students will return to their home schools to work with their respective teachers on the concepts they engineered and share what they learned.