McComb prepares entire class to send project into space

Sophomores Amrit Singh (left) and Trent Bloor (right) carefully measure (insert substance I’m sorry but I’ll fix this later at layout night) to contribute towards their hot-air balloon project.
Photo by Ryan Lipour

After teaching the class originally, Scott McComb returned this year to teach RAHS’ Aerospace Engineering Class after being taught for a time by Geometry and CAD teacher Michael Gudor.

“About May or June of last year it was pretty clear that we needed to do some shuffling with the master schedule,” said McComb. “It was pretty clear that Gudor was going to end up teaching Algebra 1, which meant that there was some question about the elective that I would teach.”

Previously, McComb taught AP Physics 2, but switched back to Aerospace Engineering once Dona Bien-Aime came to the school and took over the physics courses.

“When we hired Bien-Aime it was pretty clear it made more sense for him to teach both sections of Physics 2 and me teach Aerospace Engineering,” said McComb.

Needing to prepare for a slightly different class, over the summer McComb worked at Blue Origin.

“One of the things we were working on was a curriculum to help teachers launch student designed experiments into space,” said McComb.

Their current project is ambitious, but they are prepared for the work it takes to send a capsule into space by way of a high-altitude balloon.

“We’re launching ours [the experiment] not aboard the Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket, which is part of the work that a small group of students are doing in Flight By Design,” said McComb, “but rather we’re launching it aboard a high-altitude balloon.”

Aiming for a career in the aerospace field, sophomore Alex Keller is taking the class to improve his knowledge in those specific science and math fields and to become more qualified.

“Since I knew it was going to be very teamwork and project-based,” said Keller, “I wanted to obviously expand my capabilities of that and my leadership and teamwork and aspects of the way I work.”

Keller feels the class has been rewarding in many ways.

“I think what’s been most beneficial from it [the class] is being able to take parameters that you need to compensate for and then building something to work around that,” said Keller, “so it’s really taking an issue and solving it.”

His colleague, sophomore and Electrical Team Lead Max Arevalos, also appreciates the specific type of work, believing McComb is well fit for the job.

“He’s very open to feedback and he’s very organized, so it’s easy to be one of his students,” said Arevalos.

Compiled of five sub-teams, the Aerospace Engineering class has come together to work on their balloon project, including leadership from all of the grades.

“I really appreciate the help of the leads,” said McComb. “The mechanical lead is [senior] Hunter Whitlock, the electrical lead is Max Arevalos, [sophomores] Amrit Singh and Rafael Urrea are science leads, Sam Corvell, ninth grader, has taken [the] lead on the launch team, and the PR [public relations] team works really well together. It’s fun to see those pieces come together.”

McComb believes Gudor’s class was beneficial, and looks forward to bringing back his own view of it.

“I know that they spent a lot of time [in Gudor’s class] focusing on building different iterations of aircraft and understanding the courses of flight in a really deep, experiential way,” said McComb.

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