Colin Lang spoke at the TEDxSanAntonio Spring 2016 event and shared with the audience his experiences leading a rocketry design class at Alamo Heights High School. But these are decidedly not the models you played with as a child. They are industrially engineered rockets, nearly twenty feet long, designed to skirt the fringes of the upper atmosphere at speeds nearing four times the speed of sound. And the launches are demanding enough to require the assistance of the U.S. Army and use of the White Sands proving grounds in New Mexico.
Lang has been teaching the course for four years, and the class size has grown from a handful to more than 150 students spread over four classes. It’s technically demanding and students must maintain excellent GPAs in order to participate in the course. The most rewarding part of the effort for Lang, though, is the impact the course has had on the subsequent higher education and career plans of students. Many have gone on to study aerospace engineering or other technical fields. His students will be making their way to White Sands again in the next few days, aiming for new heights.