Lauryn’s Post

Lauryn with Rocket

Hi! I’m Lauryn Loudermilk, and I’m a senior at SSU working on my degree in Computer Science. I started working for NASA EPO when Kevin John showed up at a Computer Science Club meeting that I was attending and announced he needed a web developer for the group. In a week I had been hired as a “Web Assistant” at my first official job as an undergrad.

When I started working here I never thought I’d end up in the desert shooting off rockets with tiny sensors in them. When you decide to become a programmer you accept that most of your life may be spent in front of a computer. Small Satellites for Secondary Students has been such an amazing opportunity for me, as I’m sure it’s been for all the other participants and staff. I’ve learned so much about rockets, payloads, and engineering, and I know this is just the beginning!
My learning experience began weeks before the training when I assembled my first payload. It was my first time soldering, just as the training was the first time many teachers had soldered. I Felt their pain as their solder blobbed instead of coning, two joints mysteriously became connected, and they cut leads that were not meant to be cut. Consequently I often found myself running around the room de-soldering and re-soldering sensors, and replacing ones that couldn’t be fixed.
It was during this time I learned how exciting and hectic the first run through is of an extraordinarily complicated program like S4. After all, you can only plan so much. We were reminded of this when Palmdale’s streak of 100+ degree weather was broken with rain and cold on the day we planned to launch our payloads on balloons. However, the heat was back the next day and thankfully continued up to the rocket launch that weekend. Fun and sunburns were had all around. (Less fun was had when the parachute of one of our rockets didn’t deploy and both rocket and payload were subsequently smashed to bits.)
In the upcoming weeks I look forward to contributing to the improvement and finalization of the S4 training. I hope you’re as excited as I am to see it progress!

1 thought on “Lauryn’s Post

  1. Hi Lauryn – as one of the “edumacators” who participated in the S4 training and payload deployment operation (big words for “Light it, run, and hope you don’t get conked with your own payload!” 😉 ), I’d like to express my thanks to the team and say how much I enjoyed the entire process. That includes the very exciting (see the part about running, above) final S4 flight that ended quite spectacularly (which my payload flight immediately preceded – timing IS everything – WHEW!). Despite the results of the final flight, even that was a key “teachable moment”, as we say, because it demonstrated what can happen when things go very wrong, underscoring the need for vigilance and safety precautions that are absolutely necessary during every single launch.

    This new site is really snazzy and also very much appreciated – great job! I do have a couple of nits. The Search text field at the upper right of all site pages is too short – on my browser (Chrome on Windows 7) even the word “Search” in the field is cut off at “Sear”, much less being able to hold a typical search string of, say, at least 15 characters. Another issue is that the captcha-style field that has to be filled in with a numerical sum is also too short – I can’t see most of even a single digit in the field when typing it in.

    It’s not clear whether we educators are meant to be able to initiate our own blog posts here and/or create threads in the forum. If we are, where can we create our user IDs and passwords in order to obtain posting privileges? I’m really looking forward to continuing conversations with other educator training participants, including teachers, S4 staff, and adjunct supporters such as the rocketeers. I just love that kind of nomenclature – it’s so cool, harking back to The Early Days of blasting stuff off … mostly skyward!

    “To Infinity, and Beyond!” Well, OK, “To Thousands of Feet, and Back Safely in One Piece!” 😀

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