Flight by Design discovers new insights

From left to right, seniors Caden Gobat, Josh Sherbrooke, Brynne Hunt, and Sara Reyes examine a Cessna Caravan, which the ecoDemonstrator program uses to test technologies involving autonomous flight.
Photo Courtesy of: Nicole Danson

During second period on Thursday, 29 Mar. 2018, Flight by Design teacher Nikhil Joshi took his class to a Boeing facility to experience an Eco-Demonstration; a presentation by Boeing engineers about the new technologies they are trying to implement onto a FedEx owned 777.

In this Eco-Demonstration, the Flight by Design class got to visit twelve stations, which explained the ingenuitive modifications made to the Boeing plane.

“We visited about twelve stations over two hours to learn about different aspects,” said Joshi, “from collision avoidance while taxiing on the ground, to the next-generation collision avoidance system for flying in the air, to fire suppression technologies inside of the airplanes, to more efficient thrust reversers, to the use of 3D printing in order to make spare parts.”

Both Flight by Design and a part of the freshman class got to attend this eco-demonstration with the hope of learning something new.

“It was an enrichment opportunity to see a real plane, see new technologies, and find out how Boeing is looking forward to making enhancements to not just this particular plane, but using it as a test bit for fleet-wide enhancements and improvements to their product line,” said Joshi.

Senior Sara Reyes got to learn about innovative developments, including fuel that is biologically engineered, (bio)fueling her own curiosity.

“I really enjoyed how they presented technologies and instruments that they were planning on integrating on current models of planes,” said Reyes. “I also really enjoyed the presentations on the biofuel as well [because] I learned that the biofuel that Boeing has developed is more efficient for the engines and the only disadvantage to using it is that it’s a little bit more costly.”

Although the demonstration didn’t help Flight by Design students with their culminating projects (to learn more see page __), it did help Reyes imagine her future in the field.

“Honestly it didn’t relate to my project whatsoever,” said Reyes, “but you can say it did by giving me insight about the current state of the aerospace field and what it’ll be like when I enter it.”

Both students and chaperones alike, such as Vice Principal Tremain Holloway, learned not only about a field that they are interested in and passionate about, but also unique tidbits.

“The name of the airplane was Holly, and I thought it was fascinating how they named it,” said Holloway. “Because it was a Fed-Ex sponsored plane, there’s basically a drawing with all of [Fed-Ex’s] employees and [they] put their child’s name in that drawing. So they pick from that and that’s how they figure out what name the plane is going to have.”

In addition to learning new things, Holloway thought this trip would be a good opportunity to get outside the school and find potential mentors or speakers for the school.

“I know our students here are aspiring to be something like what they’re doing over there, such as eco-programs,” said Holloway, “so I thought it would be a good idea to make connections.”

Holloway, in fact, made some old connections with another group of UW students who were also attending the eco-demonstration.

“We were not the only group that was going,” said Holloway. “There were four or five different groups, and one of them was college students. We saw [alumni] Uyen Tran and a couple of other former students. It was good to see them and see what they were doing.”

However, there were drawbacks to the demonstrations, seeing as the twelve stations of modifications were squeezed into just about two hours.

“There wasn’t enough time,” said Joshi. “We were really being moved quickly from one display to another so we barely had time to ask questions.”

This whole field trip was made possible with almost no cost to the school due to the help of Boeing and freshman literature teacher Nuka Nurzhanov.

“It was really nice of Boeing to provide a bus because otherwise we probably wouldn’t have been able to do it because we were out of busses that day,” said Joshi. “Not all the kids were able to make it because they had to show up before school started to get on the bus on time, so Ms. Nurzhanov was kind enough to cover the students who couldn’t make the trip.”

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