Flagstaff High School is now enrolling students for its first class in aerospace engineering. Instructor Bruce Sidlinger has a strong background in both computer science and physics, and he is FAA certified as an advanced ground instructor, a flight instructor, an airline transport pilot and a commercial helicopter, seaplane, glider and balloon pilot. Bruce also holds a skydiving license and is a voting member of the committee that develops federal standards for drones. He founded a company that contracted with both NASA and the Air Force. As Tony Cullen, Principal at FHS, stated: "Bruce is modest. He is an all around genius."
Bruce is excited to pass on some of what he has learned by teaching this new course to upperclassmen at FHS. Students will learn to program computers using Linux. They will use microcontrollers, and learn physical computing as they write code to make decisions based on sensors for light, temperature, altitude, etc. For example, students can program the microcomputer to open a valve, or open a parachute, after a specific sensor reaches a specific temperature or altitude. Using this knowledge, the students will enter a prestigious competition, the Global Space Balloon Challenge, and design a near space balloon that can ascend to over 100,000 feet. This is 3 times the height a commercial airliner can fly! There are presently 304 entries from 48 countries entered in the competition.
The inspiration for this culminating event comes from Jack Crabtree and other members of the Arizona Near Space Research team. Jack mentored Kaci Heins, the 6th grade science teacher at Northland Preparatory Academy, whom Bruce has assisted mightily with three of her classes high-altitude balloon launches from his hangar at the Flagstaff's Pulliam Airport
Two other enticements for the class are that each student will obtain a lifetime Federal Communications Commission radio operators license, and will be able to begin a log book and record ground training hours toward a pilots license if desired.
Congratulations to Flagstaff High School and thank you to Bruce Sidlinger for teaching this exciting and high-powered new STEM class!