COLUMBIA - A Rock Bridge High School student says spending a week at NASA's Space Camp was "a lot of fun."
"It was a lot of fun. I know there's a lot of people who don't get the opportunity to go and do that type of thing," Hilbert said. "The program they have is great because they're allowing people who usually wouldn't be able to attend a program like that have that experience."
Hilbert's visit was for the annual Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy. He was one of 292 students from 41 different countries selected to be part of the week-long program.
Students got a chance to develop their leadership skills while trying out some high tech gadgets at the center. They got to experience weightlessness and feel what it's like to move at extreme speeds.
"We got to do a G-Force simulator and a 1/6 chair."
Hilbert said he hopes to use the skills he learned both in his future career and in his current life as a student runner.
"Developing group working skills and leadership skills are so important in any type of engineering field," Hilbert said. "But, the leadership skills are really going to come in handy for cross country, because each year we have seniors who graduate and then new people have to step into those leadership roles."
The goal of the academy is to encourage students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.
"I'mlookingforacareerinaeronauticsandspaceandjuststufflike roboticsandengineering," Hilbert said.
He said he wants the machines he creates to help save people.
"I really want to work with the military and make search and rescue type drones," Hilbert said. "So if,like,anaturaldisasterweretooccur,orjustwar-tornareas,justhaveadroneorsometypeofrobotthatcouldhelpeithersurveylandorabuildingandlookforsurvivorsorvictims."
Dr. Deborah Bernhart, CEO and executive director of space center said investing in STEM education is essential.
“Engaging students in science and engineering is now as fundamentally important as learning to read and write," she said. "By investing in these young students, Honeywell is helping to prepare them to become the global STEM-literate citizens who will change our world.”