“I have always been inspired by space and seeing the work that the different engineers did seemed fun and inspired me even more to become an aerospace engineer,” he said.
As an ambassador, he researched the use of balloons to navigate the Martian terrain. He plans to present his Mars balloon research to space industry professionals at the annual Colorado Space Business Roundtable Roundup Wednesday at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
He created an equation to take into account the different factors that could affect the balloon, including temperature, atmospheric pressure and density, altitude, the balloon material, and the mass of the balloon’s payload. Then he created a Python program using that equation so he could test the effects of changing variables on the radius, tensile strength and altitude of the balloon.
For his research, he looked at whether a balloon could maintain lift on Mars.
In high school, he heard a presentation from a Ball Aerospace engineer, contacted the engineer to learn more about his work and found out about a Colorado Space Business Roundtable internship. He applied and was accepted to the weeklong summer program, learning from employees at companies that included Lockheed Martin, Ball Aerospace and Sierra Space.
He went on to apply for the Colorado Space Business Roundtable’s student ambassador program because he “wanted to continue learning more about the Colorado space industry and make more connections.” He’s one of this year’s seven Colorado Space Business Roundtable ambassadors.
He learned Python and other programming languages as part of the Boulder High robotics team, and is now the team captain.
“Robotics has also given me a lot of practice in designing solutions to problems and collaborating with others to find solutions,” he said.
Through his research he found that, as the altitude of the balloon increases, the radius of the balloon increases exponentially. Also, the heavier the material of the balloon, the more volume it needs to have a large enough buoyant force for lift. He said he still wants to investigate the effects of the sun heating the balloon in the day and cooling it at night, as well as account for gasses diffusing through the thin plastic of the balloon.
“I don’t view myself as being done researching, even though I am presenting,” he said, adding he has connected with University of Colorado Boulder aerospace students who are interested in helping with his research. He’s planning to major in aerospace and mechanical engineering in college and is interested in aerodynamics/astrodynamics, structures and systems engineering.
“I also want to build rockets, so I think that aerospace engineering will allow me to learn some of the skills I might need after college,” he said.