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Cicero youth returns from space and rocket center

He may have only travelled to Huntsville, Ala., but the trip was more than just that. Christian Brothers Academy junior John McAuliffe, 16, of Cicero, had a unique opportunity to visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, thanks to a scholarship he won through Honeywell.

McAuliffe was one of 160 students from 20 different countries and 28 North American states who attended the inaugural Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy or HCLA.

The HCLA was created to provide students with a unique opportunity to engage in sessions addressing current issues in science, technology and engineering.

McAuliffe reported for duty in Huntsville Feb. 27 and returned to Cicero March 5 after helping build a rocket model, experiencing a space shuttle launch simulation and taking a spin on the center-fuse, something he was proud to be "still standing," afterward.

The purpose of the HCLA appeared to have a good fit with the CBA junior's career aspirations.

"I'm not sure what engineering I will do," McAuliffe said. "It was definitely good to see and experience aerospace."

Because the field of aerospace engineering can be a competitive one, as most engineering fields tend to be, McAuliffe said he was glad to get "hands-on experience."

While at the space center, McAuliffe worked in a group with 15 other students to complete a mission. His team, "Team Determination," worked together to successfully complete a space shuttle launch.

McAuliffe had the opportunity to work with kids from China, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Malaysia, Arizona and Minnesota. His diverse team made the trip even more worth while since he was able to talk to other kids about their culture and educational interests.

Aside from the itinerary he received upon arrival, McAuliffe said "a lot of it was a surprise."

Strapping into a simulator and assisting in a "mock disaster" with emergency response teams, made the HCLA a one-of-a-kind experience.

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