STEM students get ready for liftoff

San Marin’s senior STEM classes, taught by Mr. Claudio Tronconi, are working on building a RV-12 kitplane. The plane is made by Van’s Aircraft and sold in kits, hence the term kitplane. The STEM department has acquired the kit through a partnership with the Gnoss Field Community Association and the STEM Marin Fund. The project is looking for corporate sponsors, as kits cost upwards of $60,000. Current plans are to sell the plane after every student who worked on it has an opportunity to fly in it. This would help fund future projects and return the investment made for this build.

Students are currently learning important building techniques with the support of Gnoss representatives who are mentoring the classes and providing assistance, technical knowledge and aviation experience. David McConnel, Carl von Doymi and Richard Ganes, three of the mentors, expressed enthusiasm for working with students, saying the experience has been fun and rewarding.

The component parts are housed in room 708, where the building takes, and will continue to take, place. The construction, which began in the second semester of last year by the senior STEM class of 2017, is currently focused on the cockpit and will systematically progress as each section of the plane is completed. While the project goal is to complete assembly by the end of this year, STEM Coordinator Mr. Nick Williams said that realistically, it will take four more years for all necessary building, including the installation of electronic components, to be finalized. Once it is, the plane will go through a mandatory Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, inspection and be test flown by licensed pilots. Once inspection is passed, the plane is officially flight worthy and liability for any injuries passes on to the pilot, not the builder.

The project will give students an opportunity to learn new skills, whether by installing the craft’s Rotax 912ULS 100 HP engine or riveting its frame, leaving students with general and technical knowledge applicable in many STEM fields along with providing San Marin STEM students with a unique high school experience.