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Harry Amadeo '20 and Alex Lim '21 reach for the stars (literally) in the 2019-2020 ASPIRE program

Congratulations to nine students who have been accepted into the 2019-2020 Advanced Science Program for Independent Research and Engineering (ASPIRE) program, which is supported by the Advanced Mathematics and Science Study Program fund. This year's group includes Harry Amadeo '20 (second year in the program), Jacob Boyar '21, Ryan Heaton '21, Sam Hillenmeyer '21, Nadia Kucher '21, Alex Lim '21, Wafa Nomani '21, Olivia Sheridan '20, and Joseph Winterlich '21. The ASPIRE program encompasses a summer internship accompanied by the Advanced STEM Research course. Each year, a small group of students who clearly demonstrate an ability and interest in achieving true excellence within science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics are selected for independent study and competition preparation, and/or a laboratory research experience, based on the rigorous standards of the ASPIRE program.

This post highlights Harry and Alex. Both students are reaching for the stars as they work on designing and building things that fly. For Harry, it's rockets and rocket fuel and for Alex, it's a drone. 

Harry Amadeo: Rather than working in an official research lab at a university, Harry is working on his own project independently. 

Harry is using iron-based catalysts in composite solid rocket propellant, which accelerate the burn-rate. Fast-burning rocket propellant is useful for lifting heavy rocket payloads off the launch pad. The catalysts being tested are also readily available and inexpensive, making the resulting rocket motors more cost-effective as a whole.

"The ASPIRE program has been more than flexible to facilitate a project of my own design. Being able to have a project that is more applicable to my interest and passion (rocketry) puts my work to good use for my future endeavors," Harry comments. After college, he plans to become a propulsion engineer for defense companies, working on state-of-the-art propulsion systems.

During his senior year at King, Harry has been spending several hours per week mixing, casting, and testing the iron catalyst-containing rocket propellants he has designed. He made a specialized data acquisition system to record the needed data to characterize how the propellants burn. This work stemmed from his 10th grade Science Fair project that won not only the 10th grade category, but also the 2018 Best-in-Fair Award. It was there that he demonstrated his passion for science research and rocket fuel design. Combining this early work with his current project, an endeavor that has spanned three years of dedicated work, he has a packed application for the 2020 Regeneron Science Talent Search competition and remains hopeful that evaluators will celebrate his efforts.

In addition to the ASPIRE Program, Harry has taken advanced classwork throughout his time at King. In his Freshman year, he excelled in Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Principles. He has since earned top scores in AP Calculus BC and AP Chemistry, and he is currently taking Multivariable Calculus and AP Physics C.

Outside of school and his APSIRE project, Harry is an avid rocket-enthusiast. He makes large-scale high-power rocket motors, and regularly attends launches. There, he launches his self-built rockets to miles in altitude, sometimes even breaking the sound barrier. 

Alex Lim:  Alex is working with Dr. Tolga Kaya, Ph.D., at Sacred Heart University. Dr. Kaya is an Associate Professor and Program Director of Computer Engineering program in the School of Computer Science and Engineering at Sacred Heart and teaches undergraduate Engineering and graduate Computer Science courses. Alex's primary focus is to develop a drone security system to improve the safety of schools and other public areas.

Alex's research involves the development of an integrated camera system equipped with motion sensors working in tandem with an autonomous drone capable of object tracking, obstacle avoidance, and live GPS tracking. Alex comments that, "though this is certainly an immense jump in complexity from my last research project, I feel even more passionate about this developmental process. I am very thankful to be given the opportunity to experience legitimate scientific research, and the skills I learn will carry through with me for years to come."

Alex is currently taking Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus AB and AP Chemistry as a Junior and has prospects to take AP Calculus BC, AP Physics C, and AP Statistics as a senior. He and his team won the 2019 King School Science Fair Best-in-Fair Award for their autonomous robot capable of solving mazes using various pathfinding algorithms. Alex is also a passionate artist with the Artistic Minds Studio in Stamford, CT and has won various awards at competitions, such as Scholastic Art & Writing and iCreate. Alex enjoys fixing cars in his spare time and is a competitive swimmer, having competed at national swim meets.

The King Fund supports STEM opportunities like these! Please give generously to support these and other distinctive offerings for students at King. The ASPIRE program is also supported, in partnership with the King Fund, by the Advanced Mathematics and Science Study Program (AMSSP) Endowed Fund. Established in 2018 by Margharet, Frank, Bea '15 and William '17 Nash, the AMSSP Fund supports select students with demonstrated ability and interest in achieving true excellence within science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics in global competition preparation, and/or laboratory research experiences. Congratulations to the entire group!