Durango High School Aerospace Design Team wins again

Students also sweep individual awards in Florida

The Durango High School Aerospace Design Team at the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida. Back row (from left to right): Torin Hopkins-Arnold, Joe Lawton, Clay Mickelson and Daniel Sandner. Middle row: Abby Scott, Sarah Vierling, Alison Hall, Georgia Witchel, Katelyn Weese and Madeleine Burns. Front row: Paxton Scott and Harry Steinberg. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Durango High School

The Durango High School Aerospace Design Team at the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida. Back row (from left to right): Torin Hopkins-Arnold, Joe Lawton, Clay Mickelson and Daniel Sandner. Middle row: Abby Scott, Sarah Vierling, Alison Hall, Georgia Witchel, Katelyn Weese and Madeleine Burns. Front row: Paxton Scott and Harry Steinberg.

The Durango High School Aerospace Design Team has a record of success that continues to grow with the team’s recent victory at the International Aerospace Design Settlement Competition in Florida.

On July 31, the team placed first in the competition. Additionally, the Durango kids swept the individual awards.

“It is a snowball effect. Because we’ve been so successful, it attracts high-caliber students,” said team sponsor Sabine Furtauer. “We have some of the strongest minds at Durango High School in this group.”

Aerospace Design is a class offered to all students at Durango High School.

Teams qualify for the international competition through a written project proposal, and this marks the seventh time the Durango team has won the competition. The team has qualified 22 times.

The competition was held July 29-31 at the Kennedy Space Center outside Orlando. The Durango team was paired with students from other schools around the world to form a theoretical company, Grumbo Aerospace.

Grumbo Aerospace was one of four companies competing, and was composed of 60 students from Romania, India, China, Washington, Iowa, Texas and Colorado.

Senior Paxton Scott was elected team leader, and his sister, Abby Scott, served as a systems engineer. Other managerial positions included Katelynn Weese as head of human factors and safety, Daniel Sandner as head of automations and Harry Steinberg as head of structure and engineering.

The Grumbo Aerospace team had 42 hours to design Asimov, a settlement on Venus capable of sustaining a population of 10,000 residents. The inhospitable environment of Venus was just one challenge the team had to overcome; others included sleep deprivation, language and cultural differences.

“They asked us to build the settlement on the surface. The atmosphere on Venus is very dense. It has the hottest surface temperature of any planet in the solar system,” Paxton Scott said. “Heat and pressure made it difficult to build the settlement.”

Paxton Scott, an aspiring aerospace engineer, returned for his third year in the competition.

“Although we didn’t win last year, we applied some of what we learned then to win this year,” he said. “The past two years, my roll has expanded more toward leadership. It offers new challenges.”

Abby Scott won the Jingle Lutz award for best female presenter, Daniel Sandner won best male presenter and Joe Lawton won the Dick Edwards award, given to the best student leader from each company.

“I love this group of kids, and when you win the international competition, you feel humbled because it’s such a group effort,” Abby Scott said. “It is a feeling you cannot replicate.”

Furtauer said the Durango kids were the powerhouse of the competition.

“It is because Durango was part of Grumbo that Grumbo won,” she said. “I loved being a part of this. Every teacher’s dream is to watch students work hard and succeed.”

mrupani@durangoherald.com

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