ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Seven Albuquerque middle schoolers are gearing up for a trip that’s out of this world. At least, that’s where their ambition is headed.
The “Star Destroyers,” sponsored by Safer New Mexico, is comprised of students from Desert Ridge. Their collective interest in model rocketry could pave the way for future careers in a number of STEM-related fields.
The team’s advisor, Jason Sievert, is no stranger to the field of rocketry and engineering. His employment with the Air Force Research Labs lends expertise to the group. It also doesn’t hurt that his son Merrick and daughter Kennedy are participants.
“I’m trying to take the lessons learned that I learned at work and then pass it to my kids,” said Sievert, “so as they get older, they’ll be kind of the elite-level employee.”
The group has qualified to participate in the American Rocketry Challenge. The national competition brings together 100 middle and high school teams from across the nation to compete against each other for thousands of dollars in prizes. “The Star Destroyers” are the only group from New Mexico attending the competition later this month.
Sievert said the cost of getting there is about $10,000. To assist in their fundraising efforts, they reached out to the non-profit NewSpace New Mexico for help.
“They are our future,” said Casey DeRaad, founder and CEO of NewSpace New Mexico, “so, of course, we had to sponsor them.”
NewSpace New Mexico is involved in a variety of endeavors to bring the multi-billion dollar space industry to the state. They’re equally committed to providing educational opportunities for students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
“We really need to be inspiring young kids, and keep them involved through internships, and then they’ll be ready for that job placement”, said DeRaad.
The group is taking additional monetary donations to fund their trip. The “National Finals Flyoff” is happening Saturday, May 20th in Virginia.