Flight by Design projects are coming in for landing

Connor and Hunter finishing up their remote control model airplane.
Photo by: Will Garren

In the start of September, Flight by Design (FbD) let loose by giving their students more freedom by the students breaking off into teams to tackle their year-long projects of interest. There are six different projects; each team ranges from three to eight people in each team.

Nikhil Joshi is the teacher of the second period class, FbD. Joshi takes a unique approach to the course; instead of telling students what to do, Joshi lets students figure out their projects by themselves.

“Students have been working on them since September,” said Joshi. “Students design their own project, I have no idea what they have in mind in the start of the year. They design a project, break themselves into teams, and assign assignments on the project for a whole year.”

Senior Brynne Hunt is working on the Rainier 2 project, which has six team members. They are working on payload that tests the magnetic field.

“It is an experimental 2U payload that will launch on a sub-orbital flight,” said Hunt. “It is to test the critical magnetic field needed to deform ferrofluid in microgravity.”

Working on this project helped Hunt understand how real-world projects work and the difference between short-term, semester projects and year-long projects. Learning these skills now will help her with her future career.

“Working in year-long projects is similar to the real world and allows for projects to go more in depth and be more complex,” said Hunt. “The amount that you can accomplish with a team in a year drastically outweighs what you can do in a week or two.”

Hunt is interested in this class because it gives her a chance to learn and improve skills that she does not explore in her other classes.

“I am really interested in space and [I] wanted to gain more hands on technical skills. I also wanted to focus on my project management skills,” said Hunt. “This project allowed me to gain more technical skills and leadership skills.”

Senior Grace Zoppi and her project team are called the  International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC) which is named after the annual competition taking place in the end April. The project is worked on in FbD class and in a separate club.

“I’m on the ISSDC Team, we are designing a 6000 resident orbiting space station around the moon,” said Zoppi. “There [are] 8 people in the class that work on ISSDC, but we also have a club [that has] 20 people in total.”

Both the club and in class ISSDC team will submit their project at the end of April for the competition taking. If they succeed, they will be competing in Florida this summer.

“At the end of April we submit it to the competition head,” said Zoppi. “Then they decide the essential regional winners and then if our team wins we will go to Kennedy Space Center at the end of July for the finals. Each year the Competition organizers develop a new design scenario with its own special requirements and we have to build off the scenario.”

Zoppi has learned a lot because of the project, she learned skills that will help her academically. She also learned technical skills working on the project for the whole year.

“I learned a lot through this project,” said Zoppi. “I improved my academics skills like my CAD skills and learned about engineering documentation because it is needed particularly for my project, but a major thing I learned [are] my leadership skills. Working on the same project for the whole year taught me a lot of leadership.”

Joshi wants students to understand that the project should be started early, and it is unrealistic to procrastinate because other students other students depend on each other to do their work.

“You have to plan for it, you have to deal with setbacks. You have to be able to work together productively for a very long time,” said Joshi. “You have divide and conquer when people are working on different parts of the project that are codependent on each other. These are real world workplace skills.”

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