FHN Students Get Involved with Boeing Explore Program


Estefania Cruz-Castillo, Amber Pryor, Caitlind Walker and other students watch an engineer during their monthly meeting at Boeing. Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company that designs, manufactures and sells airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets and satellites. (Photo by Madi Graves)

By Carolynn Gonzalez, North Star Staffer

The field of engineering is becoming increasingly more important to today’s society. Because engineering is so vital, programs such as the Boeing Explore Post have been established for kids. While some people view programs like the Boeing Explore Post as something to put on their resume, others like sophomores Caitlind Walker, Amber Pryor, Estefania Cruz-Casillo and five other FHN students see it as a stepping stone into their future careers.

“I really like how creative we get to be with it,” Estefania said. “No one can tell is exactly what to do. We get to figure out what works and what doesn’t work.”

The Boeing Explore Post is a program for high school students to further their knowledge of engineering. It shows them what it’s like to have an actual engineering occupation and provides a more hands-on experience that isn’t found in schools.

“Since they’re being guided by engineers that have already experienced what their careers are like, it makes the program a closer simulation to an engineering job,” Cindi Walker, Caitlind’s mother and executive director of global support and services at Boeing, said.

According to Pryor, the Boeing Explore Post was advertised to them in their engineering class and both Caitlind and Amber took interest. With encouragement from Cindi, they applied.

“We both want to be engineers, so we wanted to be exposed to different forms of engineering,” Caitlind said. “Plus, since Boeing is an actual company, you know the program is going to be legit.”

In order to be chosen to be a part of the Boeing Explore Post, an essay must be written on why the applicant believes they should receive a spot in the program. Only 80 applicants out of the 200 that applied are accepted each season, which begins in September and ends in May.

“The essay had to be constrained to 300 words, and it was really hard to fit what you wanted to say in that space,” Amber said.

The 80 high schoolers accepted into the Boeing Explore Post are split into two sessions which both meet once a month. According to Caitlind, they are guided by engineers from Boeing, which provides a more accurate look into what being an engineer is like.

“It’s a good opportunity to work as a team,” Cindi said. “Teamwork is critical in any job, but especially in engineering.”

Caitlind, Amber and Estefania’s project for this year’s Boeing Explore Post is to construct a Rube Goldberg machine, which is an over-engineered contraption that performs a simple task, typically through a chain reaction.

   Through the process of planning and working on their machine, they learn the engineering process, a main concept in any engineering profession, and how to work together in groups. Their team receives a marble from another team’s machine, which travels through a PVC pipe to a box with a sensor that allows the marble to land on a pressure plate of the next team’s machine.

   “We started building recently,” Amber said. “They have bins of materials we can use that range from pipe cleaners to heat guns. As a team, we looked through the parts and determined what we would use to make our design most effective.”

   According to Amber, the Boeing Explore Post has shown them what it’s like to work with peers who are actually interested in becoming engineers. Working in teams is a large part of engineering and a history of teamwork is something engineering companies like Boeing look for in clients.

   “It’s nice to work in a group of people who have engineering minds and put out good ideas,” Caitlind said. “I plan on doing it [the Boeing Explore Post] next year too.”