Launch To Success STEM Workshop

Continuing its year-round commitment to support STEM education, The Aerospace Corporation held a two-day STEM workshop on August 1 and 2 for teachers and high school students.
Student working on scavenger hunt for El Segundo STEM Workshop

Through its STEM programs, the company highlights the dedication and enthusiasm its employee volunteers bring to STEM educational outreach.  

Dubbed “Aerospace Launch to Success,” the workshop was meant to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists by immersing high school students in the diverse culture of Aerospace and exposing them to the various careers of our employee volunteers. This year, the theme of the workshop was diversity: not only ethnic diversity, but diversity of thought, careers, problem-solving approaches, and interests.  The two-day event was filled with fun and educational activities for both teachers and students, giving them an insider’s view of the work done at Aerospace.

Aerospace Justin Mino chaperones a STEM tour in El Segundo
Justin Mino, an Aerospace summer intern, listens to a high school student’s thoughts about the STEM day at Aerospace.

Only students participated on the first day, and after a brief welcome and introduction, Vice President and CIO of Enterprise Information Services Tammy Choy answered questions about Aerospace and stressed the need for innovative STEM students.  Afterward, a scavenger hunt gave the students an opportunity to interact with interns.


After lunch, the students split into two groups and were escorted to the STARS Mission Operations Center. Led by systems director Jon Binkley, the STARS team explained what it takes to launch a rocket into space.  The students sat at the consoles and reenacted the various roles that real scientists and engineers perform during a launch.  They also engaged in a communication check in which each student repeated a launch code specific to their job assignment.

Senior project engineer Daniel Winton then talked to the students about digital engineering and explained the importance of effective communication skills. The students engaged in a scenario in which they had to coordinate an event using various strategies that required communication by different groups to complete a common task. 

The first day ended with engineer Jackie Tardif speaking about the evolution of small satellites from their inception to their current usage and future innovations. She discussed some of the missions she is currently working on and shared the importance of keeping an open mind when working on projects that involve multiple groups of people.

On day two, an iLAB team showcased some of the models and concepts they are developing to a group of both teachers and students.  They discussed the significance of looking at a problem from different perspectives and listening to each other’s ideas.  After the presentation, iLAB interns discussed their different backgrounds and interests and the opportunities that Aerospace gives creative thinkers.  Participants learned that at Aerospace, interns don’t need to attend prestigious universities, but it is more about being a driven student looking for opportunities to succeed.

Teachers View Robotics Demo

Students tour Aerospace labs in El Segundo
With 80 specialized laboratories to test, analyze, and troubleshoot virtually every aspect of rocket and satellite systems, the high school students had a great time exploring and interacting with Aerospace scientists and engineers.

The students then toured the physical science labs, where they had the chance to ask questions and experience real-world work in progress.  While the students visited the labs, the teachers watched a robotics demonstration by retired Aerospace chief engineer Dr. Ed Ruth.  Ruth has been heavily involved in developing and teaching robotics curriculums to elementary school students and loves to share his experiences.  The teachers learned the basics of robotics and had the opportunity to interact with some of Ruth’s robots.

Devoted STEM volunteers Caley Albert, Dr. Anh Dang, and Daniel Winton then spoke to the entire group about diversity and the challenges they have faced and how having a diverse background has helped them overcome those challenges.  All the panelists agreed that great communications skills are vital to success in any environment. 

In an unscripted moment after the group photo, the teachers and students thanked Aerospace with a chant. President and CEO Steve Isakowitz stopped by after hearing the group chant to say hello and answered questions from the audience.  A pleasant surprise for all!