Aug 26, 2020–The board of SystemsGo has announced the election of Doug Kimbrell as President of the Fredericksburg-based high school rocketry STEM program. The change followed the resignation of Carl E. “Gene” Garrett, Jr. Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired), who is relocating to North Carolina. Garrett will remain on the board.
“We are deeply grateful to Gene for his many years of service to SystemsGo,” said Scott Netherland, Executive Director. “He has been instrumental in shaping the lives of thousands of students as they reported to our annual launch events and participated in the Flight Readiness Reviews ensuring the rockets were safe to fly. We thank him for his leadership and friendship. We are also grateful to Doug Kimbrell for assuming the mantle of leadership for SystemsGo and we look forward to our continued work of providing a world class STEM program to more and more students.”
Garrett has been involved with SystemsGo since 2004, when he began volunteering as a Range Safety Officer for the rocket launches. His role expanded to launch rail setup and oversight for launches at the White Sands Missile Range. Garrett joined the board in 2013 and became President the following year, a position he held up to the present time.
“The last 15 years of working with the SystemsGo team has been a rewarding, eventful, exciting and blessed adventure,” said Garrett, who also taught Navy ROTC classes at Fredericksburg High School. “The courses Brett Williams started teaching at Fredericksburg High School intrigued me. Nowhere else were high school students building rockets as a final exam. These traits of hard work, failing and learning, growing in maturity, teamwork, and leadership will serve SystemsGo students for a lifetime.”
Read Captain Garrett’s full letter below
Garrett and his wife, Beth, are moving to North Carolina to be closer to family. He plans to return each spring to help with the growing number of rocket launches as the SystemsGo program continues to expand to new schools and other states.
Kimbrell, a retired telecommunications engineer, earned his BS in Industrial Engineering with a minor in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology while working at the Manned (Johnson) Spacecraft Center in Houston during the Gemini and Apollo program developments. After graduation, he went to work for Texas Instruments in Dallas developing “FLIR” infra-red fire control systems for USAF AC-130 Gunships. He joined Collins Radio Company in 1973, and retired after 28 years at Collins/Rockwell/Alcatel as Director, Technical Marketing.
SystemsGo uses the designing, building, and testing of rockets to promote engineering studies and research, develop work-force skills, and encourage students to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) related academic and career paths. Students design and build rockets to meet specific goals that include lifting a one-pound payload one mile high, breaking the sound barrier, or sending a scientific payload up to 100,000 feet at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR).
Information at www.systemsgo.org.
To the awesome SystemsGo team,
The last fifteen years of working with the SystemsGo team has been a rewarding, eventful, exciting and blessed adventure. I am very glad that I got started with the team when Brett Williams asked me to work in Stage 2 of Rockets and go to get the Goddard Launch Trailer from California. I had no idea then what it was really all about or where it would lead me. The courses Brett was teaching at Fredericksburg High School intrigued me and nowhere else were high school students building rockets as a final exam. The whole learning process was much different from the force-fed regurgitated process used in other classes. I have to admit this was an exciting new view of education. Thank you Brett for your inspiration and “out-of-the-box” education process. It works!
To the volunteers, we could not do this without all the days of help you have provided SystemsGo. Your faithful year after year of time and energy are critical to allowing our students to test and evaluate their projects at the end of the year. Some of you have spent many long and hard but rewarding days to support SystemsGo’s efforts. I certainly appreciate your time and efforts and I hope that the differences in the student’s lives has been your deserved reward. We could not have done it without you. Please continue to help in the future.
To the Board of Directors, it has been rewarding and learning experience working with you to keep SystemsGo afloat and then growing. I have greatly appreciated your keen insight, experiences, and dedicated efforts to see SystemsGo prosper. There have been some tough times but with your help and experience we have weathered the storm and moved ahead. Under the new board leadership I see nothing but success and a positive impact on many more students. Thank you and I will keep engaged with you remotely for the future.
To the Staff present and past, wow! You are tremendous. You are the everyday team that has brought this unique learning experience to so many students and met the daily challenges to make the program the best learning experience available for all students. I cannot say how great it has been to work with you to accomplish all you have accomplished. You are a great team that is second to none. Keep charging, full speed ahead.
To the Teachers. You are where the concept meets reality, there in your classroom. Do not ever give the students a moment of slack and never the answer. They need to discover the answers with your occasionally nudging them in the better direction. Remember, failure is an option only if they learn from that failure. You are the icing on the cake and your positive impact on your students are what will make a significant difference in the world and our great country. Remember, it is not your project, it is their project. Students will always surprise you on what they can accomplish if you let them.
I have watched students when their rocket launches. I have watched students when they get it back and download the data and experience success in meeting their goal or experience disappointment when they did not make goal but then rapidly try to figure out what did not work as they thought it would. And then figure out how to apply that to the next project. I have loved watching students work hard, fail a little and learn a little, apply that learning, and move on to greater horizons. I have watched them mature beyond their age in the SystemsGo curriculum. They have learned they cannot do it all and that teamwork will lead them to success. They have learned that teamwork is not always easy. I have watched natural leaders take the lead and keep the team on track while making hard decisions that high school students do not often have to face. These traits of hard work, failing and learning, growing in maturity, teamwork, and leadership will serve SystemsGo students for a lifetime.
I will miss all of this on a daily basis, but my plans are to return each April/May for Rockets and help in Stage 2 and anywhere else that Rebekah will let me. I will need that annual dose of student reactions, some great fellowship with you, and Texas chow to sustain me.
God bless you, Gene