Clark is one of five finalists in the CubeSat challenge

On Dec. 2, the U.S. Department of Education announced that Clark Magnet is one of five finalists in their CTE Mission: CubeSat challenge. Between August and October, CTE teachers from schools in 22 states led their classes as they created missions based on their communities’ niches.

Clark’s Honors GIS/Remote Sensing class brainstormed ideas and filled out a form to decide on a mission. “Most everyone voted for the homeless encampments using infrared cameras to identify where the homeless encampments were in the high-fire prone areas,” said Honors GIS/Remote Sensing teacher Dominique Evans-Bye. 

The class’ mission was inspired by the situation at the Hansen Dam Area. “It’s a real problem,” Evans-Bye said about the dry brush fires. “The homeless people that live there start fires. The fire department has to respond right away. With the Santa Anas winds blowing, the fire could get out of control and innocent people would be at risk. It would cause a lot of damage – a loss of property and a loss of life.” The class hopes that this nearby study area makes research feasible and more possible to make an impact on the community.

During the two month period called Phase 1, the class made plans as to how to launch the CubeSat and the drone that will fly over the search area. Besides the planning, the Honors GIS/Remote Sensing class also conducted research. “We collaborated as a class to answer the required questions that entered us into the competition,” said junior Karmela Gregorian.

In the two months downtime, the class has been working on other projects. Then news of their accomplishment broke out a little over a week ago.

“I got a text message from Dr. Landisi that said ‘I heard you won something,’” said Evans-Bye. “He said it was CubeSat. I told him that we applied for that and that we had a really good idea, but I don’t know how good our write-up was. I went and checked my email and saw that the CTE sent me a ‘Congratulations, you won!’ email. I was surprised. I wasn’t expecting that.”

“I was very happy and excited that we actually get to continue the project,” said junior Taline Amirkhanyan. 

“I was very happy when I found out our group was selected as finalists and excited for what comes next in the competition,” said Gregorian.

The judges left each of the finalists feedback on their proposal and work so far. “They liked the community impact of our proposal, and the involvement of it. They want to see more collaboration – like a school-wide collaboration. Since then, I’ve reached out to Photography, Design, and Cinematography. Why not make this a Clark CTE programs thing? I thought.”

Phase 2 will happen from January to May 2021 and the five finalists have access to top-notch mentors and further virtual additions, so that the teams can build their CubeSat prototypes to launch their prototypes. “We are planning to go to school and fly the drone early next semester if we get allowance from the school,” Amirkhanyan said.

In the meantime, the Honors GIS/Remote Sensing class is gathering resources and creating plans for their prototype.