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Even on a very windy day, the rocketeers of the Humble ISD Career and Technology Education (CATE) Center could not be deterred. On a recent Tuesday morning, the group known as CATE TNT kicked off a rocket extravaganza and launch competition.

The students have been building rockets and learning rocket technology since September when TNT, short for Tuesday Night Technology, began.

The concept for TNT actually began in the summer with an aerospace camp. Students loved it but wanted more, so TNT was formed in the fall semester. High school students interested in technology, robots, drones and engineering were encouraged to attend.

About 30 students are on the TNT rocket team from four Humble ISD high schools (Atascocita, Humble, Kingwood Park and Summer Creek). The club is run by Humble High School robotics teacher Joe Paneitz.

Tuesday’s launch began with the smallest Type A rocket engine launches. The students also launched their B rockets. The second day of the competition will take place in January, where the larger Type C to E rockets will be launched. Students were given a target area for landing in the Turner Stadium rear parking lot where the launches occurred.

Winners of the competition will each receive a high performance DJI Spark drone. In addition to building rockets, the students are working towards their FAA Part 107 commercial drone pilot’s license. The first student plans to take the test after Christmas. With the 107 license, students can begin to make money with their drones. For instance, oil companies and real estate agents hire drones to take aerial views of homes and property. Experts estimate that 25 million drones will be in the U.S. airspace by the year 2025, so drone operation is definitely a skill for the future. The drone prizes were donated by Brannon Lloyd, president and CEO of The College Money Guys, a company that helps parents of college bound students plan and pay for college.

The students got really creative and decided that since they would be at Turner for a while, they would probably get hungry. They proceeded to petition Paneitz to have a rocket tailgate, complete with grill, chicken and cooks from Kingwood Park High School.

The club represents a nice way for students interested in rocketry to get some practical experience. Aerospace engineering classes are taught at Kingwood High School and Kingwood Park, but not yet at the other high schools in Humble ISD. The year-long class begins with a small rocket build, and works up to building a rocket capable of reaching 1 mile and carrying a 1-pound cargo.

Jacqueline Havelka
Author: Jacqueline HavelkaEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am a rocket scientist turned writer. I worked at Lockheed Martin-Johnson Space Center for many years managing experiments on the Space Station and Shuttle, and I now own my own firm, Inform Scientific, specializing in technical and medical writing and research program management. I am a contributing correspondent to The Tribune, a Kingwood resident for 12 years, and proud mom to two Aggie sons.