South Bend student gets real life space training

 Most people never get to experience what it feels like to blast off in a space shuttle but one program gave high school students that opportunity.

Paul Finzel is a junior at Trinity School at Greenlawn in South Bend and recently participated in the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy.

“It was one of the best weeks of my life. The confidence and team building exercises; they were just so great,” said Finzel.

The event lasted for six days and was held at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Participants got hands-on experience and had to tackle real-world problems that were based in science, technology, engineering, and math, which is better known as STEM.

The participants were divided into teams and learned the importance of team-building skills and how to work together to solve "challenges."

“We did a simulated space mission. You had people who were in the control center, and people who went out of the space shuttle to fix the thing, and we were all roped up in harnesses so it was really a simulated mission to get the feel for what it would be like to be up in the international space station,” Finzel added.

Finzel said that there were people from all over the country and having to complete tasks with people you had never met before really helped him build confidence.

“You're thrown into this camp with people you don't know from all over the world and you are expected to be able to do these missions.”

He recalled a memorable moment when astronaut Hoot Gibson gave a presentation and talked about his prior space shuttle missions.

"To hear him talk, and talk about his experiences was really memorable.”

Although he is a junior and has time left to decide, he is already thinking about his future career.

“I always liked airplanes and aerospace, and it's still something I'm considering for college, but just overall the team work and confidence you learn with these people is truly amazing,” he said.
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