Mayde Creek Senior, Josh Yap, Spends Week at U.S. Space & Rocket Center

| July 1, 2010

Joshua Smith, standing, and Josh Yap, suspended in the harness.

Being a leader has never been a problem for Josh Yap, a 2010 graduate of Mayde Creek High School, but letting someone else lead was a new concept for him.

So, subscribing to the philosophy that in order to lead you have to learn to follow, Josh applied to and was chosen as one of 160 students from 20 countries to attend the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy at
the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.

“This forced me to take a back seat,” he said. “It was all new for me. I’m the one who is usually in control. I had to learn how to listen.”

Probably one of the coolest ways to learn this lesson was by spending a week in space. Well, actually it was seven days at the nation’s space center, where future leaders engaged in interactive activities and workshops that were created to enhance their leadership fundamentals. One such activity was simulated astronaut training. They also experienced a realistic shuttle mission and what it is like to walk on the moon and tumble in a space capsule.
The students participated in stress-inducing and time-critical physical challenges. They designed, built and tested their own rockets and simulated jet-fighter pilot training.

The group met with top scientists, engineers and former astronauts to reinforce core leadership competencies.
Honeywell and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center awarded the scholarships after a rigorous application and review process based on academic achievement and community involvement. Only junior and senior level high school children of full-time Honeywell employees were eligible to apply.

Back on earth and specifically at Mayde Creek High, Josh led a busy life. He played violin in the varsity orchestra and is a member of a private performing fiddlers’ group.

He was on the school tennis team, and in a more leadership role was one of a couple of kids who started the school’s first ping pong team. Josh says it will continue after he graduates by his brother, Matthew, who will be a freshman next year.

Josh’s dad, Eddy, is an engineer for Honeywell. Josh believes that because his dad was away from the family quite a bit, traveling for work, this consequently caused him to be self-sufficient.

“I’m pretty independent and I’m good at analyzing situations. I keep a level head,” he said.

Josh has attended workshops and learning academies before. During his junior year he was chosen for the Honeywell Scholars @ Presidential Classroom in Washington, D.C., where he witnessed the federal government at work. Josh got a behind-the-scenes look at how science and technology interact with public policy.

The goal of this program is to prepare young leaders for responsible citizenship and provide outstanding high school students the chance to explore the political process firsthand. The Honeywell Scholars @ Presidential Classroom is another scholarship program for children of Honeywell employees.

Of all the activities Josh participated in during both programs, the best part, he said, is the networking.
One of Josh’s favorite stories about the two academies, both last year and this, involves a little fate and a little level headedness. It starts with him falling asleep at the airport in Washington, D.C., last year and missing his flight home. Yet, he remained calm and was soon rerouted on another flight.

“On the rescheduled flight I got to know kids from the program who I wouldn’t have normally flown with.”
As fate would have it, this year some of those same kids were on his scheduled flight to the space center—a networking success, he believes.

By Cindy Ziervogel

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