Flying to victory: A closer look into Aerospace Engineering

Have you ever taken an engineering class at KHS?


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Students in Aerospace Engineering ended their five-week airplane design unit with a flight competition Dec. 12. Taught by John Mackin, science teacher, each student started designing their gliders with an Excel spreadsheet containing a list of constraints related to airplane design, then build their physical glider out of balsa wood. During a series of test flights, students experimented with clay and aluminum to optimize flight distance. Each student launched their plane three times and averaged the distances for the class competition. This year’s best plane flew about 69 feet. Later on in the year, Mackin’s Aerospace Engineering class will also study rocket design, turbo engine design, propulsion engines in space and robotics.

“The hardest part of the project is the initial design because you have 30 constraints that you have to build within,” Mackin said. “The Excel sheet calculates the numbers for you, but you have to understand what affects them. Then when you actually build the plane, you get to see if the numbers translate into a solid final project.”