Though Sandy High junior Zachary Taylor's aerospace aspirations only began in his freshman year of high school, he's definitely got a good jumpstart on his future career.
For the past two years, Taylor has participated in the Western Aerospace Scholars program, which is hosted by the Boeing Academy for STEM Learning and Museum of Flight in Seattle and sponsored by NASA.
Through the program, Taylor is afforded the opportunity to "explore more deeply topics in the science, history, and future of space travel," according to the WAS mission briefing. He also has opportunities in the summers to get more hands-on experience with space travel, space station simulations and more.
"I'm not quite sure what sparked (my interest in aerospace)," Taylor said. "I knew I liked math, so I took the first engineering class I could at Sandy High."
By the time Taylor graduates from Sandy in 2021 he'll have taken every engineering class offered by the school, excluding only those in manufacturing.
"I find it really inspiring the idea of being part of a bigger mission," Taylor said. "I like the idea that I'd get to help build something that will go into space or take off and fly."
Besides the educational benefits Taylor receives from his involvement in the aerospace scholars program, he also gains college credit in the University of Washington Earth and Space Science department, and he said: "(He hopes to) get recognition in Boeing and NASA.
"They see you've put forth a lot of effort and the college credit, and maybe that's a foot in the door with those companies," Taylor added.
On top of his regular studies at school and the WAS courses he completes, Taylor is also a three-sport athlete, playing baseball, running cross country and competing in the snowboarding class.
"I make sure to manage my time and know putting in all of this effort now will pay off later," Taylor said.
"I think we need to recognize students who go above and beyond in academic areas," said school counselor Cathy Callaway, who nominated Taylor for this month's student spotlight. "We have students here who are very academic but they don't get the same recognition as athletes. Zach is a great example."
When he graduates from Sandy, Taylor aspires to possibly pursue a mechanical engineering degree from the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls and a degree in aerospace from the University of Washington.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.