Lockheed Martin Makes Students’ Designs to Life

Fort Worth — Fort Worth ISD’s Western Hills High School’s STEM class received a surprise on Thursday, April 25, courtesy of Lockheed Martin.

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) class has been designing 2-D models of innovative aircraft that may help solve practical problems which hamper hurricane and earthquake relief efforts.

Their classroom was secretly “renovated” for the day by Lockheed Martin, which provided equipment the students used to turn their 2-D designs into 3-D realities.

The project called ‘Designed for Service’ is part of Lockheed Martin’s Generation Beyond Aviation program, which is designed to encourage young people to pursue STEM careers.

Western Hills High School is one of Fort Worth ISD’s schools that uses Discovery Education’s ‘Project Lead the Way’ curriculum and was selected as one of only five high schools in the nation to receive this type of visit from Lockheed Martin representatives.

“At Lockheed Martin, we definitely value our STEM activities,” said Ryan Alford, who acts as a public relations lead. “Not only do we reach out to college students, but also high school students, and we offer internships for both levels.

“We realize that a lot of the new, fresh ideas that are going to be invented in the future will be by the kids in high school right now. The students who are in the classroom today are the ones who will be inventing the next greatest, biggest thing.”

The class activities were led by Lockheed Martin engineers and interns, so the students had assistance from people who already work in the field.

“We wanted to give the kids access to real-world engineers, so they can not only get help, but can ask questions of folks who are our employees,” Alford said. “We hope this keeps them interested in STEM subjects, and hopefully the word will get out about this program to students who may be considering taking this class.”

Colonel Russ Malesky (USAF, retired) is one of the three instructors who teaches the class. He is a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) instructor and also teaches Aeronautical Engineering.

“I spend a lot of time teaching aerodynamics, how to fly the aircraft, and the neat thing about it is that a few of my JROTC kids are in the class, so it wraps around, combining aerospace science, JROTC and the Project Lead the Way course that I teach,” Malesky said.

Lessly Ariza, a Western Hills senior, was awarded the one paid Lockheed Martin internship offered at her school.

“My teachers told me about the opportunity to be a Lockheed Martin intern,” Ariza said. “I never expected to be a paid intern in high school. I was encouraged, because I am a woman, and there are not a lot of women engineers around right now.”

She plans to pursue a dual major in electrical and mechanical engineering in college, and she will be able to continue her job at Lockheed Martin after graduation.

Daniel Haros, a Systems Engineer at Lockheed Martin, brought a piece of technology that was patented a few years ago for use on airships.

“This was built to improve maintenance,” Haros said. “It’s called ‘SPIDER,’ which stands for ‘self-propelled instrument for damage evaluation and repair.”

The SPIDER was designed to find pinholes on the outside envelope [material] in airships and repair them. Haros said it took a human team about a week to perform this maintenance inspection, as the current mock-up is 120 feet long, but with SPIDER, the time is cut down to two days. The airship currently in construction is scheduled to be 300 feet long.

“An airship is the size of a football field, and these pinholes are literally the size of a typical pin,” Haros said. “So, people would have to walk almost hand-in-hand over a full envelope, one on the outside and one on the inside. One person is shining a light and the other is looking for any light coming through. It was a tedious process.

“SPIDER is fully 3-D printed and is completely made of everything that is available off the shelf. Anybody here could go out and purchase the materials to be able to make this thing.”

SPIDER has saved Lockheed Martin many man-hours and the difficulties that accompany such a tedious task. “While other things are going on, SPIDER is doing its thing, which saves us so much time. It’s one of those things that you see and think, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ because it seems so obvious in hindsight,” Haros said.

Lockheed Martin ended the presentation by announcing they will be donating a 3-D printer to the high school. With this new tool, STEM students will be able to continue turning their innovative designs into realities.

Written by Stacey Doud