Team Capt. John Easum learns something new every day at Raytheon
In June 2011, John Easum, team captain of Rockwall-Heath High School Heath Side Boys Rocketry, traveled with his teammates to the International Rocketry Challenge at the Paris Air Show in Paris, France and returned home as a world-champion rocketeer.
One year later, the Rockwall, Texas, native has landed a summer internship with Raytheon. After witnessing Raytheon’s displayed technologies, including aircraft and company holograms, at the Paris Air Show, Easum knew he wanted to work at the Waltham, Mass.-based defense technology company.
“Raytheon does some really cool things,” said Easum, who attends Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and studies engineering physics. “Raytheon has these incredible technologies that I heard of in college, and I’m lucky to work in a lab where some of them are made.”
During the summer, he’s interning with Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems (SAS), which develops sensor systems for military forces, giving them the most accurate, timely and actionable information available for the network-centric battlefield. Easum’s currently working on projects that involve physics and signal processing and electronic schematics.
“Every single day I’m coming to work and learning something new, and that’s pretty exciting,” he said. “I like creating things in ways that haven’t been done before and that affect people for the greater good.”
Easum’s work at Raytheon has overlapped with his Team America Rocketry Challenge experiences. He said being able to visualize problems, mitigate risks before they become problems and knowing how to communicate effectively with teammates are crucial both in the lab and on the launchpad.
He caught the rocketry bug after his eighth-grade teacher received an email about Team America Rocketry Challenge. A few of his friends asked if he wanted to lead the project, even though his knowledge of the work was limited. Accepting the challenge, he quickly developed a passion for rocketry.
In May 2011, Easum and his Health Side Boys Rocketry team, comprised of teammates Landon Fisher, Michael Gerritsen and Colt McNally and coach Susan Vogel, won the Team America Rocketry Challenge, sending them to the international competition in Paris. The Raytheon-sponsored team defeated the French and U.K. squads and earned the title of world champions.
“It was a big relief,” Easum said of winning the international contest. “After all the years of hard work and the frustrating problems, winning made it all worth it. Knowing that we made a point to keep adult help to a minimum and that we were able to make it all the way to the top is something I am truly proud of.”
As students from Madison West High School prepare for their trip to the International Rocketry Challenge competition at the 2012 Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough, England, Easum said the team should practice early, record and measure everything and understand elevation differences.
“They should be aware of the significant elevation difference between Farnborough and [Washington] D.C. — and really Madison, Wis. — because their air is a lot denser,” he said. “I can’t say whether it will make their rocket go higher or lower because it varies, based on the shape of their rocket and their rocket motor.”