CLUTE — Launch a rocket into space by 2028.
That’s the goal Dale Hobbs, rocket engineering teacher at Brazoswood High School, has for his future students as they continue to push the boundaries of physics.
The second large-scale rocket constructed by students was unveiled Monday at the Brazoswood High School Career and Technology Education Center. Many of those students expressed how rocket engineering gripped them into a world they didn’t know existed before embarking on this adventure.
“I was so inspired and captivated by everything about rocketry,” said Elena De Valcourt, a recent Brazoswood graduate.
The 24 students — seven girls and 17 boys — built a 25-foot rocket that will be tested in New Mexico’s White Sands National Park this week. They plan to push the boundaries of the competition and hopefully “blow everyone out of the water.”
“We kind of have a friendly little competition with Fredericksburg High School,” said Riley Arnold, a student on the team. “We plan on blowing the competition away.”
It will take about 70 seconds for the rocket to reach its projected altitude at a velocity of 2.17 times the speed of sound, student Scott Kesseler said.
“We actually use college texts and work with physics to get all these calculations,” Kesseler said.
Last year’s rocket reached an impressive 26,000 feet into the air. This year, the rocket is projected to hit 70,000 feet, more than doubling last year’s project.
Organized by SytemsGo, an aeroscience curriculum-based program out of Fredericksburg, only eight schools nationwide are participants in this STEM course.
“My biggest takeaway is that we take high school students and turn them into problem-solvers,” Hobbs said. “It’s really an exclusive club; it’s the most humbling thing.”
Hobbs’ background in chemical engin- eering led him to head up the rocketry classes offered by the high school. He worked at Dow Chemical Co. for more than 20 years before taking on this program almost a decade ago.
His students revere his teaching style and dedication for the program.
“We probably all have our different stories about Mr. Hobbs and how we got involved in rocketry,” Arnold said.
The students said their greatest feeling of accomplishment came from learning how to be adults, solve real problems and work as a team.
The students even presented their design plans to NASA and Boeing, getting to meet engineers and members of the Apollo team, Hobbs said.
Arnold, De Valcourt and Kesseler said they all plan to study engineering at Texas A&M this fall, inspired by the innovations learned with the rocketry courses.
“We learned beyond the pages of a textbook, solving real-world problems, and that’s been the best,” De Valcourt said.