Washington State Aerospace Collegiate Conference takes off

by Lynnwood Times Staff

Dozens of budding rocketeers gathered Saturday for the third annual Washington State Aerospace Collegiate Conference.

The free event was designed to highlight student achievement in rocket design and promote the field of aerospace engineering. 

It was held at Edmonds Community College and featured attendees from Edmonds CC, North Seattle Community College, the University of Washington, Edmonds-Woodway High School, Everett Community College, Mountlake Terrace High School and Seattle University, among other institutions. 

Attendees ranged in age from “UW all the way down to students whose schools don’t even have a rocketry program,” said William Hamp, engineering faculty member at Edmonds CC and Rocketry Society advisor. 

“So middle school up to UW,” Hamp said. “That allows the younger students to see themselves in that future role. It lets them see what they’re capable of.” 

ECC features on-campus engineering programs as well as the Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center at Paine Field airport where students can learn skills required for a “high-wage, high-demand aerospace job in 12 weeks,” according to a campus news release. 

The Pacific Northwest is also “aerospace central” for employment, said Austin Thiessen, president of ECC’s Rocketry Society. Many Edmonds CC graduates go on to find employment at big-time companies such as Boeing and Kent-based aerospace manufacturer Blue Origin. 

The event featured a variety of speakers and a range of booths highlighting student work in rocketry. 

Students from the drone team at Clark College in Vancouver showed off their sub-scale model of a drone they are building. The full-scale drone will have a wingspan of nine feet. The team has attended the conference for multiple years and said it’s a chance to highlight their student work. 

“We like to get as much exposure as possible,” said team member Levi Benning. “And it’s kind of something that nobody really knows about at Clark [College], so I try to reach out to people and just get the word out. And it’s also good practice for all of us drone team members to talk to the public and work on our communication skills.” 

At one table, Mountlake Terrace High School rocketry club students Ava Finch and Lilia Sanders carefully cut out paper to complete an activity which called to assemble the paper as the “body tube” of a rocket, which was constructed out of a PVC pipe.

Finch said her favorite part of being part of the rocketry club at Mountlake Terrace High School was “just learning about engineering and how stuff works.” She said she’s enjoyed working as part of a team and learning how to use a laser cutter and design software. 

Sanders said attending the conference was a chance to gain knowledge and “allows us to learn about what other clubs are doing.” 

“It’s really nice to have insight into what they’re working on,” Sanders said. “It’s been pretty neat to see.” 

At least 40 people attended Saturday’s conference. 

For more information about Edmonds Community College’s STEM programs, visit:

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