Local Students Team up with Air Force for Competition
By Maj. Eric Simon, SMC Public Affairs
/ Published July 02, 2014
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif. -- Students from five high schools around the South Bay and Los Angeles area participated in a payload competition held here, celebrating the Space and Missile Systems Center's
60th Anniversary. In the three months leading up to the competition, Air Force mentors from SMC regularly visited the schools and helped engineering students prepare their payloads consisting of a small camera, video transmitter, accelerometer to measure impact and a GPS receiver. On June 16, students and mentors gathered at the top of the six story parking structure on LAAFB to launch their payloads from a specially made launch rail. Students had to account for winds, landing location and timing of the parachute's deployment.
Despite several parachute failures, Scott Beatty of SMC's Integrated Production Team, and lead planner of the event, was pleased with the students' reactions. "So far it looks like the students are having a blast even though their payloads smashed into the ground. They still seem to be having fun," he said. Students quickly recovered their damaged payloads and mended them for another try, with a few successes. The integration of cameras with payloads replicates the necessity of the aerospace industry's contribution to world-wide vigilance through satellites and their importance in national security, Beatty said.
Teacher Steve Eno, El Segundo High School's founding father of its engineering program, beamed about his students and the attitudes displayed by everyone. "The great thing about so many kids in the class is they've become so passionate about engineering that they'll do it any time they can," said Eno who was alluding to the fact that most of the students were already done with the school year and participating on their own time.
Not all students have aerospace as their first choice though. Student Tony Montes from Lawndale High School had a more local career in mind. "I'd like to be an engineer for Disney," said Montes, who aspires to be a ride designer. However, he's not without a steady backup, "If that doesn't work out, I've thought about going to Northrop Grumman."
Dominguez High School of Compton took home first place in both the Structural and Aesthetics categories, while Leuzinger High School from Lawndale won the Video Quality category. Davinci, El Segundo and Lawndale high schools also participated. The payload competition is a part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiative also known as STEM.
Upcoming STEM events at the Space and Missile Systems Center are in the planning stages and will be announced in the future.
The Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the U.S. Air Force's center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems.
Its portfolio includes GPS, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks; space based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.