A Tallahassee high school aerospace engineering club is competing this week in the finals of the Florida Astronaut Challenge at the Kennedy Space Center, thanks to their skills and some help from Florida-based Harris Corporation.
For the third year, Harris is sponsoring the St. John Paul II Catholic High School’s Aerospace Engineering Club – the smallest school in the challenge – as they compete against 14 other Florida schools in four space-themed events Feb. 6-10. The Florida Astronaut Challenge is an annual event that enables high school students to show off their Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills through team-based challenges, particularly in aerospace science. John Paul II High School has reached the finals each of the three years it has competed.
Robynn O’Leary, the school’s Aerospace Engineering Club faculty sponsor, says this year’s project will focus on how innovative technology can save lives during natural disasters, such as hurricanes. Prior to the competition, students will tour Harris’ Global Innovation Center in Melbourne and meet with leadership and other members of the company’s Space and Intelligence Systems segment.
“The innovation and ingenuity these students display is remarkable,” said Bill Gattle, president, Harris Space and Intelligence Systems. “STEM skills are fundamental for building a future where what was impossible yesterday is commonplace today. We look forward to the exciting innovations these students will produce in the future.”
Several former John Paul II students have received full scholarships to such prestigious engineering schools as Texas A&M, Embry Riddle, University of Alabama and Georgia Tech in Aerospace Engineering or related fields. James DeMarco, a 2016 John Paul II graduate and current Junior at the University of Florida, has brought his Harris connection full circle – starting his internship with Harris in their engineering department.
Harris sponsors the team as part of its HEART (Harris Employees Actively Responding Together) initiative. To help foster the next generation of innovators, Harris invests heavily in time and resources to support STEM education at all levels. Over the past 10 years, Harris has contributed more than $22 million to educational institutions in support of STEM-related education, and employees have volunteered thousands of hours in STEM-related outreach – impacting thousands of students across the country.
About Harris Corporation
Harris Corporation is a leading technology innovator, solving customers’ toughest mission-critical challenges by providing solutions that connect, inform and protect. Harris supports government and commercial customers in more than 100 countries and has approximately $6 billion in annual revenue. The company is organized into three business segments: Communication Systems, Electronic Systems and Space and Intelligence Systems. Learn more at harris.com.