Program attracts students from around the world; encourages pursuit of STEM careers 

A Mazama High School senior spent a week this fall immersed in hands-on simulations and leadership training at the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

As part of the five-day camp, Alex Lehman participated in a simulated space mission, mall collapse, and fighter jet mission.

He was one of 200 out of 700 applicants worldwide chosen to attend the week-long camp in Huntsville, Ala., in October. Students are selected through a rigorous application and review process based on academic achievement and community involvement. Honeywell and its employees help fund the scholarships, which cover the cost of tuition, meals, accommodations and program materials. For the camp Alex attended, a student needs to have a parent working at the company.

Alex described the camp as a “leadership academy based around space,” saying he learned how to lead, give speeches, and build teamwork through participating in challenges. “Our main focus was teamwork, leadership, and crisis management.”

Participants developed STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) leadership skills through team-building challenges such as building, coding, and testing rockets, simulated astronaut training, shuttle missions, and a low-gravity moonwalk. Student also used computational thinking and computer science to deepen their digital skills.

The academy attracted students from all over the world, and Alex returned home with connections to other youth who are interested in STEM fields. He plans to study computer science with a long-term goal of earning a PhD and working in research analytics.

At Mazama, Alex is a 4.0 student in the STEM&M program and also competes on the school’s competitive robotics team. For his senior project, he is building a website for Mazama’s robotics program.

Alex entered the academy thinking he was an introvert, but quickly learned that word didn’t define him, especially after he won the academy’s Excellence in Leadership Award.

“I had reservations at first,” he admitted. “But I learned an incredible amount leadership wise, and made connections I never thought were possible. My roommates were six amazing people. We would stay up late and talk about life, and I ended up making good friends from around the world.”

Mazama High senior Alex Lehman, back right, at the command center during a simulated space mission at the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy.

Alex Lehman, a Mazama High School senior, accepts the Excellence in Leadership Award from the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Students enter the gates of the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.