United Launch Alliance awards grant money to high school engineering clubs

The high school engineering teams at the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District are getting help from the United Launch Alliance (ULA) to continue their successful competition season this school year.

ULA awarded a grant of $5,000 to split amongst the Harlingen High School, Harlingen High School and Early College High School engineering clubs. The grant money will go towards purchasing materials for the organizations use in competitions.

“We don’t have to worry about fundraising, and it’s a big help,” said Marcos Rodriguez, HHSS junior and engineering club president. “We are glad we have support from the ULA.”

The sponsors also acknowledged the non-monetary perks that accompany the awarded funds.

“Students appreciate that they can focus on building their prototypes,” said Javier Garza, HHSS teacher and engineering club sponsor. “The ULA makes materials for rockets and airplanes. It’s closely related to what our students do. It’s a great partnership.”

To thank ULA for their support, the clubs participated in a rocket launch to show off their designs. The launch was a sign of gratitude and represented an alignment of the work ULA produces and the interests of the engineering students, said Paul Tenison, HHS teacher and engineering club sponsor.

During the launch, teams tested their rockets for their upcoming participation in the Team American Rocketry Challenge (TARC). As each rocket bolted towards the sky, club members took detailed notes on flight duration and altitude for future adjustments.

The ULA provides grants to support Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs at local schools. With the awarded funds, the ULA looks to facilitate an environment that increases interest in STEM related fields.

Their assistance has helped the teams find success this year. The clubs used the donated funds to purchase materials to compete at the RGV Boosting Engineering, Science & Technology (BEST) Robotics Competition. Each team earned multiple awards for their design and performance. The HHSS team made HCISD history by taking first place in both of the most coveted categories.

“We hope that they continue this path,” said Ralph Luaces, Manufacturing Engineering Manager at ULA. “We’ve noticed year after year they seem more interested in engineering. It’s fulfilling for us to make an impact.”

In addition to the generous donation, ULA works with the campuses to coordinate field trips to their facility and presentations on space engineering. The visits have helped one student choose her future path. HHSS student Ceci Zebrowski has decided to pursue a career in engineering, said Garza. She made her decision after seeing a presentation Luaces gave to their organization.

This is the sixth year the ULA donate has donated funds to the district’s engineering organizations.


To view more photos from HHSS grant presentation click here.

To view more photos from HHS grant presentation click here.

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