Four Sunrise Mountain High School students, their teacher and two advisors are going to Washington state on an all-expense paid trip for two weeks to help build an airplane as a result of winning a nationwide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) competition.
The contest was sponsored by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and other aerospace companies, and consisted of students building and flying a virtual airplane. In addition to being scored on their design and flying skills, students were also rated on how much payload their plane could carry, the fuel burn and flight time for a specific mission. The competition was narrowed down to a list of finalists from 79 high school teams representing 33 states and the District of Columbia.
Sunrise Mountain HS
“All teams were given a score on aerodynamic and performance parameters while flying a specific mission profile,” industry advisor Reza Karamooz said. “The judges from GAMA selected the Sunrise Mountain High School as the winning school and the President of Boeing Business Jets – Chairman of GAMA, made the announcement at the GAMA board meeting on May 8, 2014.”
The Sunrise Mountain High School’s team “FORMULA-X” won first place in the competition by a wide margin.  In announcing the FORMULA-X as the winner, Steve Taylor, president of Boeing Business Jets and GAMA Chairman, said that the team’s design was impressive and he also stated that one of the goals of the contest is to promote STEM education among high school students in the United States.
The students also submitted a one-page essay on how the competition enhanced their knowledge of STEM. In its essay, Sunrise Mountain High School wrote, “We will always remember this amazing experience and some of us are already thinking about becoming pilots and engineers.”
The winning team, consisting of Carlos Alvarado, Joshua Carlson, Kenny Ellis and Jose Rodriguez, along with their teacher, Thitiya Pathakkinang, and team advisor, Reza Karamooz, was watching the announcement via webcast in Principal Grant Hanevold’s office. When the announcement was made the students were shocked, but then clapped, cheered and hugged each other as the reality of winning the contest set in.
“This was a well-deserved victory for countless hours spent after school and on weekends,” said Principal Grant Hanevold. “The opportunity to work alongside engineers to build a plane will be a life-changing experience for these students. I am grateful for their advisors and I am beaming with pride for Sunrise Mountain High School.”
GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said, “Last year’s competition was life-changing for the students, with seven of the eight winners saying they now plan to pursue a career in aviation. The strong interest this year’s contest generated—and the extremely impressive quality of the entries—shows the high level of talent, dedication, and enthusiasm that exists for careers in general aviation, which is critical as we build our future engineering, assembly, maintenance, and pilot workforce.”
General Aviation Manufacturers Association
“I started working on creating the Aviation Club concept in the fall of 2013. I believe that with proper instruction by very qualified teachers and advisors, children from 6th learn about scientific and engineering concepts and enter into STEM-based Aviation, UAS, Defense & Aerospace careers,” industry advisor Reza Karamooz continued.
Reza Karamooz said the biggest lesson learned during this project was that any goal can be accomplished with proper planning, perfect execution and diligent work.
“In the 2014-2015 school year, we plan to introduce and expand our after-school club program to middle school and high schools throughout the State of Nevada to inspire student to learn about airplane design, flight, and testing; UAS design, programming, testing and operations; rocket design and launch; and jet engine design and testing,” he explained. “In addition, we will recruit students who are interested in careers ranging from IT, Computer Science and Programming to Photography.
“Winning the competition means so much to us. Our two advisors, Karamooz, president of the Nevada Business Aviation Association, and John Kanuch, an United States Air Force F-16 test pilot, are both engineers and set the high goal of not only winning the competition, but winning by a big margin,” said teacher Thitiya Pathakkinang. “I hope that this great accomplishment brings excitement and   pride to the students involved and that it also inspires future students to participate in such competitions later on. I truly believe that the lives of these students have changed forever.”