Out of this World Experience for Duvall Teen

  • Written by Kristen Hamilton
The options for teens interested in pursuing careers in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subject seem to grow every year. For a kid whose parent works at Honeywell, the odds are even greater to find one of these opportunities.
Meet Michael Mendoza, a 17-year-old junior at Cedarcrest High School who lives in Duvall with his family. He was one of 325 students chosen throughout the world to participate in the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy (HLCA), also referred to as Space Camp, February 24-March 2, 2018.
HLCA is a week-long camp that takes place at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. It promises to provide innovative activities that develop students’ leadership skills through technology and science-oriented workshops, lectures and team exercises. Activities are delivered in fun and exciting ways that bring STEM studies to life.
After speaking with Michael about his experience, I’d say that HLCA delivered on its promise.
The program is offered to students whose parents are one of the 130,000+ full-time employees of Honeywell at any location around the world. Michael’s dad works as a Senior RF Design Engineer for Honeywell in Redmond, Wash. and he learned about the program through an employee email. He encouraged Michael to apply.
DAY 3 291Michael Mendoza at Space Camp. (Photo by Reena Rose Photography)Michael had to complete an extensive application and three essays for consideration in the program. Winners were chosen based on academic achievement and community involvement. He is very interested in pursuing an electrical engineering degree in college. Michael also mentioned that his older brother is currently studying engineering at the UW Bothell campus. He would be proud to follow in his dad’s and brother’s footsteps.
Although he was initially nervous about making the trek from Duvall to Huntsville by himself, Michael said everyone was so nice that he settled in quickly. At the camp he met students and made new friends with kids around the world including Korea, Norway and Poland. He also met some fellow Washingtonians from Lake Stevens and Spokane.
Throughout the week the students worked in teams and were presented with multiple challenges that they worked through together. These team-building challenges included building and testing model rockets; participating in simulated astronaut training sessions; a moonwalk; shuttle missions; and scientific experiments. In one challenge, Michael was an Incident Commander and leader over 32 other students. He said that the challenge required him to work outside his comfort zone and he was relieved when it was done but really enjoyed the experience.  Overall, during the week he felt as though he became a better leader and was not afraid to take charge. He also really felt like he was part of a team. At the end of the week, Michael was presented with the “Problem Solving Award.”
I asked Michael if he had any advice that he’d offer to other students that may be interested in a similar program. He said, “Be open minded and have fun.” I would say this experience for Michael hit on all cylinders.
DAY 4 404Michael Mendoza (middle) at Space Camp. (Photo by Reena Rose Photography)
For more information about the HLCA program, visit

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter