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scholar winner 2024

During the SystemsGo Central Texas launches in May, Fredericksburg High School senior Victoria Schmidt was presented a check for $3000 as winner of the 2023 Brett Williams Scholarship. Back row: Jace Granville, Jacob Mills, Landon Kovar, Barrett Greene, Jaxon Fowler, FHS teacher Andrew Matthes, Front row: Aaliyah Aleman, Syraya Rodriguez, SystemsGo Programs Director George Burns, Victoria Schmidt, Michael Schmidt, and SystemsGo Executive Director Rebekah Hyatt. Photo by Phil Houseal

June 10, 2024–Victoria Schmidt of Fredericksburg High School received the 2023-2024 Brett Williams Scholarship, awarded annually by SystemsGo, the Texas-based nonprofit STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) rocketry program.

The high school senior has been active in the SystemsGo program since her freshman year, advancing through the Intro to Engineering, Tsiolkovsky (one pound; one mile), and Oberth (speed of sound) levels. Victoria noted in her essay she joined the program in hopes it would put her “closer to the sky,” and help her to overcome being intimidated by the math skills required.

“I realized in order to succeed in this program, one simply needed a drive to learn,” she stated. “The program taught me how to look for the appropriate equations, then apply them to a tangible object. It was also an experience that made me realize how important teamwork is to my success.”

Her experiences in SystemsGo even changed her career goals.

“I started out wanting to touch the sky, but I realized the science behind what keeps something in the air made me decide to stay on the ground for good,” she said. “As a result of this program, I have found my path to become a civil engineer, using the skills I learned from this program and improving life for those like me, who wish to stay grounded.”

Victoria plans to join classmates in launching a Goddard level rocket at White Sands Missile Range this summer, then enter Texas A&M Corpus Christi in the fall.

“Our scholarship committee saw that Victoria exemplifies the mission of the SystemsGo program, in that it develops those soft skills crucial for success after high school. It literally changes young people’s lives,” said Rebekah Hyatt, Executive Director. “Using our approach of project-based education, thousands of students in our program are better equipped to follow paths in many different fields.”

The annual $3000 merit-based scholarship was established by the SystemsGo Board of Directors in 2017 to sustain the legacy of founding instructor Brett Williams. It is awarded to a current high school senior who has completed at least the Tsiolkovsky level curriculum and launched a rocket designed to send a one-pound payload to one mile.

During the recently-completed Rockets2024 event, students from 47 SystemsGo high schools designed, built, and attempted to launch 169 rockets at four sites across Texas and New Mexico.

SystemsGo uses a problem and project-based model to invoke and stimulate skills in design, development, testing, analysis, and innovation. It currently is used in high schools in four states and Abu Dhabi. More information at www.systemsgo.org.