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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    Momentum Member Spotlight – October 2015

    AIAA Congratulates Tim Feltner

    By Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications

     

    Tim-Feltner_200 With October upon us, it’s fitting that the Spotlight remain on a school track as we swing west toward Layton, Utah, and illuminate Tim Feltner, a technology and engineering educator at Layton High School, and the Utah Air Force Association’s 2015 Teacher of the Year.

    A passionate educator, Feltner exposes his students to as much practical engineering knowledge and experience as possible. In his classroom, students can be found building rockets, designing futuristic school buildings, or listening intently to guest speakers, ranging from engineers to architects, as well as experts from other STEM fields. Feltner also feels that his students benefit significantly from the mentoring by numerous STEM professionals that his class hosts on a yearly basis. His students annually compete in the Team America Rocketry Challenge, as well as the High School of the Future design competition – and normally place very high in the events’ respective fields.

    When asked what inspired him to enter aerospace education as a career, Feltner cited early childhood influences, reinforcing the idea that it’s never too early to help people discover aerospace. Feltner explained: “I have always been fascinated by the last frontier, and I keep up on the advances in aerospace. I desired to have a full engineering program at Layton High School, and Aerospace Engineering was the missing piece. I live next to Hill Air Force Base and I have always taken the opportunity to attend events at the base.”

    According to Feltner, it was his high school art teacher who influenced him the most. As he put it, “Jim Clarke always told me I was destined to be a teacher. I studied art and civil engineering in college and did not give much thought to his words. After one visit back to my high school, and another conversation with Mr. Clarke, I felt that teaching might not be too bad after all. That is how I ended up here.” Feltner also remembers a seminal moment from his childhood that steered him toward a future love for aerospace, stating, “My favorite memories are when I purchased my first telescope at the age of ten and began exploring the universe. One very distinct event was tracking a satellite as it streaked across the sky.”

    Feltner’s favorite memories revolve around his students. As he explained “Having students excel in a contest or project they have worked on for a full school year … are my favorite memories.” He added, “Having students come back after several years to let me know how they are doing are also among my favorite memories.”

    For middle schoolers who are interested in aerospace, Feltner offered these words of advice: “Keep pushing and always think out of the box. The greatest ideas are sometimes crazy ideas that have been blended into the perfect ideas. Make the most of your education by exploring all areas of interest. Never back yourself into a corner by not allowing yourself to see other solutions.”

    For high schoolers, he offered similar advice, counseling that “I would say many young people do not pursue the career of his/her dreams because they feel they are lacking in some areas. The truth is that hardworking people who never give up will never have to worry about those deficiencies. Work hard and get your degree, and then find out who you really are.”

    When the discussion turned to how aerospace professionals could help teachers, Feltner offered some ideas, opining: “Members of the aerospace industry can be greatly beneficial to education because they have the experience that high school students are seeking. I have used industry mentors in my classroom for several years. Mentors have been an invaluable resource in Aerospace Engineering, where students are taught about, and then build a rocket; in Civil Engineering/Architecture, where civil engineers and architects team up with groups of students to develop the High School of the Future; in Intro to Engineering Design, where mentors help student groups work through a reverse engineering project; and in Engineering Design & Development, where mentors help the students work through the design process and ultimately build a prototype of his/her creation.” He closed this part of the discussion by noting “Until professionals make their way to the classroom, they will never know how rewarding it is to watch high school students excel.”

    Feltner feels that AIAA offers tremendous value to educators, especially to Educator Associate members. He explained, “It gives educators access to the cutting-edge technologies that are taking place in the world. I have used the AIAA website many times to supplement a unit of study in Aerospace Engineering.”

    The interview closed with a brief discussion about Feltner’s feelings in regards to being named the Utah Air Force Association’s Teacher of the Year. Clearly a humble man, Feltner responded, “I am always honored to receive teacher awards, but it all comes about because of my passion for teaching. I have never pursued an award because I feel I am just doing my job. I do not think I do anything in the classroom that most other teachers don’t do as well. I have a great desire to give my students every opportunity to succeed by giving them real-world projects and pairing them with industry mentors to give them a push in the right direction.”

    AIAA congratulates Tim Feltner for his selection as the October 2015 AIAA Member Spotlight, and for being named Utah Air Force Association’s Teacher of the Year. We thank him for his work in helping to prepare the next generation of aerospace professionals, and we look forward to witnessing how his students will grow and help shape the future of aerospace.