My love for math and engineering started at an early age. My mom has a detailed robot drawing from when I was four! My passion for aerospace started developing my freshman year at Plantation High School. As a South Florida resident, I had the opportunity to attend several rocket launches at Cape Canaveral. My aerospace engineering teacher nurtured my love for developing ideas in the digital world and using manufacturing skills to make ideas turn into a working reality. I continued developing these skills through aerospace applications as I obtained industry certifications in AutoCAD, SolidWorks, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.
While still in high school, I participated in the Team American Rocketry Challenge (TARC), where over 800 teams compete to build a 3-foot rocket powered by a commercially available rocket motor. Making mistakes was encouraged to foster the problem-solving mindset. This allowed me to learn how design, manufacturing and testing worked, and I developed greater understanding of space flight. The yearly TARC National competition occurs every spring in Virginia, and only the top 100 qualifying teams attend. Our team made the finals every year. Building up to a sixth-place win my senior year, I progressively learned how to truly apply the scientific method to rocketry. Every Saturday, we would launch our rockets to gather data on how atmospheric conditions affected the flight. I learned how to use software to simulate potential designs before constructing them and wasting materials or time, as well as how to use construction techniques to assemble these rockets to match the simulations.
After a year of TARC and many failed flights, I was accepted into the more complex NASA Student Launch Initiative, where schools construct ten-foot-tall rockets to carry science experiments. Starting my sophomore year and continuing through senior year, my high school team was one of 17 high schools in the nation to have their project proposal accepted and compete with the best university teams, including UCF.
I’m excited to be pursuing UCF’s future engagement with the competition, which has taught me the importance of prioritizing tasks, teamwork, time management and leadership. UCF’s aerospace engineering program has been nationally ranked, and with the school’s close proximity to Cape Canaveral, it was an easy choice to come here. The opportunities paired with the Honors College, internships, and ability to conduct research in my field made UCF’s BHC a perfect choice for me.
Through Students for the Exploration and Discovery of Space, or SEDS at UCF, I’m trying to continue building my skills, working on a project similar to the Student Launch Initiative. Being able to have a club advocate for me allows for access to labs or materials that I wouldn’t have access to otherwise. In May I’ll be fortunate enough to participate in IREC (Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition) at Spaceport America in New Mexico, which I applied for through SEDS. I hope to continue to learn and be in contact with professionals and mentors in my field.
I’m excited for BHC to put me in contact with industry leaders, give me an edge in applying for jobs, and assist me in my pursuit of my master’s degree in aerospace engineering. After graduation I plan to work for an aerospace company, preferably private over governmental. A company such as SpaceX, Northrup Grumman, or Blue Origin is the end goal, working on launch systems for scientific or commercial payload.
Written by Adam Sachs for the Burnett Honors College