Three Redmond High School juniors recently completed the 2018 Western Aerospace Scholars (WAS) residency program. WAS is a University of Washington college course focused on NASA’s exploration program and is affiliated with the NASA scholars program.
Karen Velderrain-Lopez, Conner Hansford, and Matthew He will be seniors at RHS beginning this fall and they completed the rigorous WAS program and residency which began in Phase One of the program in December 2017.
The three were among 200 students who competed for a spot on the WAS Summer Residency by completing 10 NASA and University of Washington designed lessons. Completing this program lets the three RHS students register to earn five UW credits.
Phase Two was a six-day experience held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. Valderrain-Lopez, Hansford, and He were accepted into the Phase Two program where students were grouped into four student teams to plan a human mission to Mars with support from professional engineers, scientists, university students, and certified educators. Participants received briefings from aerospace companies including SpaceX, Blue Horizon, Boeing and Aerojet and they also toured engineering facilities and competed in hands-on engineering challenges.
“Phase One was like taking another class on top of our regular school course load. Phase Two was intensive and we were busy from 8 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. each night working on our mission projects,” Hansford said. “It was tough but the experience was incredible. WAS solidifies my dream to study aerospace engineering and be a part of future Mars missions.”
Western Aerospace Scholars (formerly Washing Aerospace Scholars) is designed to connect high school juniors with educational and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through independent learning, hands-on interaction, professional guidance, and site-based tours.