Terrace’s own rocketeer

By Nina Otebele, Hawkeye Staff

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Some people believe that high school doesn’t help individuals grow and learn more about the world around them, but this is certainly not the case for Austin Thiessen.

From being a shy and   introverted student in his freshman year, to an extroverted rocketry enthusiast in his senior year, Thiessen’s high school experience has shaped him into the dynamic person he is today .

The main aspect of high school that impacted this growth was participating in various activities provided by the STEM program.

His overall experience in the STEM program was very positive and it has really helped Thiessen develop his leadership and problem solving skills.

“[The STEM program] has allowed me to make contacts with people out in the world and experience a lot of cool things. I have been able to work with other schools, go to VR events and many other things,” he said.

Currently, Thiessen is well known for being a leader in the STEM department. He is also the president of Rocketry Club.

“Being [president] and being able to have some kind of control over how things are done [has allowed me to be] able to run the [club] the way I think it should have been run [in previous years],” he said.

Rocketry is one of his many passions. The club played a gigantic part in developing his passion for rockets. He started off with building smaller rockets using cardboard tubes, then slowly moved up and used bigger parts to make larger rockets as he grew more experienced. From there, he started using fiberglass and electronics to control flight.

One of his favorite high school memories is directly tied to Rocketry Club. In his freshman year, he went to the Fire in the Sky event with engineering teacher James  Wilson, Assistant Principal Peter Shurke and a few other students.

Fire in the Sky is the largest rocketry launch in the state, held each year in Mansfield by the Washington Aerospace Club. People gather to launch rockets in what is practically the middle of nowhere! At the event, there are rockets ranging in ability from those that can only go 200 feet to large 12-foot rockets that can fly to altitudes exceeding 16,000 feet.

“[We were] just in the middle of nowhere, launching rockets and just having a really nerdy time,” Theissen said. “[We were] staying up really late having the most ridiculous conversations in the desert.”  

He has also enjoyed doing a lot of outreach in Rocketry. He got many opportunities to work with elementary and middle school kids who may be the future of the MTHS STEM program.

“I made a lot of contacts and connections with other schools and other teachers in the district, which has been fun,” Thiessen said.

He got the opportunity to participate in similar activities through his role in Stem Leadership.

I joined STEM Leadership because I wanted to have a bigger impact on the greater STEM community,” Thiessen said.  “I have been a part of the planning and organization of many events, such as the Middle School Stem Camp, Eighth Grade Parent Night and STEM BBQ.”  

Once his senior year is over, Thiessen has a summer internship at Boeing planned to occupy his time over the summer. He also plans to attend Edmonds Community College  to study deposits and manufacturing. At EdCC, he will take part in the large rocketry contest held there each year. The contest’s goal is to blast a rocket, 30,000 feet in the air while carrying a payload.  After that, he will see where these opportunities take him.

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