Blog Post about Speaker, Kim Jenks

In October, we invited Kim Jenks to skype with us about her career as an aerospace engineer. She gave us a very engaging and informative insight on her journey in becoming an aerospace engineer. She also provided many helpful tips if we were also interested in pursuing a career in engineering.

An aerospace engineer designs, builds, and tests aircraft, spacecraft, rockets, and missiles. Jenks herself currently specializes in missiles. She was initially interested in becoming an aerospace engineer because of her interests in astronomy and physics. Through college courses at UCLA, she cemented her plan on becoming an aerospace engineer. A typical day in her work life can vary. It can include technical and/or social tasks including developing simulation code, analyzing data, improving efficiency in manufacturing, testing hardware, and other responsibilities. These tasks could also include traveling to other places.

She then explained the different requirements and expectations of an aerospace engineer. An aerospace engineer must have honed critical thinking and problem solving skills to help analyze and improve designs, must have a drive to improve not only oneself but also the company, and must have the ability to cooperate with others effectively in a team dynamic. She also recommended joining school clubs such as a robotics team and to focus on certain subjects throughout school including obvious courses like math, physics, and programming. She also explained that a proficiency in English is very important in engineering for expressing results to others. Becoming an aerospace engineer requires at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering, but certain disciplines such as focuses on systems and control, aerodynamics, and propulsion require a master’s degree.  Some real-world skills can also be obtained through means of internships and research, but training in the industry comes from hands-on experiences.

Jenks has thoroughly enjoyed her career as an aerospace engineer. From her career, she has been able to do many fun activities like designing and building model airplanes, rockets, and robots, launching a weather balloon, and taking flight lessons. She has also found her career to be very rewarding from doing meaningful work, working with great team members, and being able to travel and explore the world.

Overall, it was very inspiring to learn about her career as an aerospace engineer, and we took a lot of great advice from her journey.

Hydroponic Garden Update by Charlie Walker ’21

Hydroponic Garden

In September 2017, Jarod Haley CB’20 came to us with an idea of building a hydroponic garden. We held a hackathon (a design challenge) where two groups designed prototypes for the structure. When the initial design challenge was completed,  Jarod, with the supervision of Dr. Vallery, Dr. Call, and Mr. Howard, chose a design which best resembled the structure he had in mind. After this process, we created a more in-depth, accurate prototype in early January 2018. From this point on, we stopped working on the project until the summer of 2018.

Over the summer of 2018, we, the sophomore EDI cohort, built the frame of  the structure. Throughout this process, we learned from our mistakes during this phase and solutions were found, enabling the frame to be built.

At the start of the 2018-2019 school year, Keon Tavakoli and I adopted the project as our own and are currently working on finishing this project, the acrylic piece that goes on top of the base-frame.  We are finalizing the design of the acrylic top by eliminating present flaws which hinder the design. Keon and I have recently finished our CAD (computer assisted design) for the structure and are in the process of collecting materials and measurements to begin the next phase of the project – seeking advice on our CAD design and then approaching a local acrylic company to build it. We intend to seek out advice from professional engineers who work with acrylic, wood, and will give assistance with plumbing.

After the collection of this information, Keon and I will contact a local organization named NorVa plastics to build the acrylic tub needed for the structure.  Once completed, the garden will grow edible plants with the purpose of being sent to local food banks in the area. Jarod intends all this work to be an effort of giving back to the community and providing fresh produce to food banks.  We are happy to collaborate with him on this endeavor.