Hunter Whitlock (left) and Sammuel Palermo (right) show judges a "mini-project" their group did in order to learn how to program in Python.
Hunter Whitlock (left) and Sammuel Palermo (right) show judges a “mini-project” their group did in order to learn how to program in Python.

On 1 June, four Flight by Design groups presented their projects to a room full of judges. The groups began work on their projects at the beginning of the year and dedicated themselves to their work for the entire year.


According to senior Joshua Palmer, Flight by Design is very different than the other classes he took this year.


“At the beginning of the year, the class had a much different vibe compared to other classes as we immediately chose our topics from the get-go and began on the project,” said Palmer. “We were essentially given two pre-made choices and the option to create our own project. The project we are working on was one of the pre-made projects.”

The project that Palmer’s group worked on is called the Grand Tour, which was created by teacher Nikhil Joshi, and they primarily developed programming and modeling skills.


“Our group is going to be presenting on our project, which, in our case, was designing a launch animation to simulate a possible route for the Voyager probe,” said Palmer.


Another team in the class worked on the Blue Origin project. Senior John Ursino, one of the presenters for the team, had a lot of work to do in order to keep his group’s project going smoothly.


“Our team is presenting on our project of launching a payload on a Blue Origin suborbital flight,” said Ursino. “As a part of software team, I’m presenting specifically on the software that operates the flight computers. Our code reads live flight data from the rocket and activates two LEDs, a servo, and a camera at mission-appropriate times. Our job is to show our progress and document our process for the judges.”


Junior Victor Current, who worked on the two-person Quadcopter group, reflected to the judges about all he’s learned this year.


“I would say that the most important thing I’ve learned during this project is more, in general, about quadcopters: how to fly one and all the components necessary to make it work,” said Current. “Trying to conserve weight, trying to find the best weight to power ratio for the motors, stuff like that.”


Senior and Blue Origin Project lead Eli Mackley, who presented alongside Ursino, has been a key player in all of the work that goes into finalizing the presentation.


“Most of the stuff in the presentation we know by heart,” said Mackley. “No significant preparation has gone into practicing as we have made multiple presentations in the past. We are making slides that won’t show during the main presentation, but are made to anticipate questions and be available to answer those potential questions.”


In addition to the more hands-on engineering of the Blue Origin team, there are software-based projects as well. The team called Cloud Sensation was in charge of creating a website in partnership with the Museum  of Flight, explains junior Janelle Vu.


“My team’s name is Cloud Sensation, and we presented about our year long-project collaborating with the Museum of Flight,” said Vu. “We and the Museum saw this vision [of] enhancing the patrons’ experience by creating a website that has more information on aircraft than what is simply on the placards there.”


This project is the brainchild of Flight by Design instructor, Nikhil Joshi.


“This idea was brought up in the beginning of the year from Joshi,” said Vu. “He was at the Seattle Art Museum, and they had something similar to what we [are] doing.”


Vu’s participation in the team is predominantly in the writing of content for the website.

“I really wanted to join this project because I wanted to get better at my technical writing and work with another party,” said Vu. “I have written two articles on two aircraft: the Air Force One 707 and the Concorde. I have also been editing my other teammates’ technical content. I have also written and prepared our presentations.”


For more information about any of the Flight by Design projects and to check out their website in progress, go to