Have you ever wondered how rockets get to space? On October 20th, AGS students had the opportunity to watch a presentation about careers in space from SpaceWorks, a local aerospace engineering company. Mark Schaffer, Megan Braun, and Jeremy Young highlighted women in the space exploration field in their presentation, did an engine demonstration, and held a Q&A session afterwards. SpaceWorks’ visit was an entertaining and enlightening experience, regardless of whether or not students were interested in pursuing careers in physics.
One of the most important lessons we learned from Mr. Schaffer was that people don’t have to be an aerospace engineer to work in the field of space exploration. Companies like SpaceWorks need artists, photographers, marketing, and more in order to function. Artists sketch and design how inventions will look, psychologists study how space travel can affect astronauts’ mental health, and marketers and photographers help attract investors. However, if someone is interested in a career in physics, aerospace engineering is a worthwhile path to follow. Engineers spend everyday searching for answers to the pieces of science that we don’t know yet.
Ms. Braun led the piece of the presentation about women in space. We learned about female pioneers in space exploration like Sally Ride and influential women today like Pam Melroy. We were also given book recommendations about women in space, including Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt and Women with Wings by Mary Cadogan. Ms. Braun also reminded us that although the percentage of women in aerospace engineering is small, our ideas and perspectives are important to the development of science. Every field of study can benefit from diverse perspectives.
At the end of SpaceWorks’ presentation, Mr. Young did a rocket engine demonstration on the back field. “I really enjoyed the space works demonstration because I was able to learn about a new field in a fun way!” said Katherine Beltrami, an Honors Physics student. After giving out hearing protection and souvenirs from their company, he fired up a hybrid rocket engine. Hybrid rocket engines use two propellants, one gas or liquid and one solid. The ignition of the propellant is part of what makes an engine work. Hybrid engines can be safely shut down, so it was a perfect demonstration for our setting.
Next quarter, Space Works will be hosting a Leadership Lab alongside Mx. Rios. Students will have the opportunity to use computer software to solve aerospace engineering problems like sizing rockets and calculating orbits. If you have any questions, reach out to Ms. Byrne.
Thank you Mr. Schaffer, Ms. Braun, and Mr. Young for working with us. We appreciate your hard work!