A Glimpse From 82,000 Feet — Kids and a Weather Balloon!

Originally published at www.quest.com — 2 Nov 2015

Finding Your Passion In Life

One of my main passions in life is feeding the mind of my son. As a father, I have been able to rediscover a sense of wonder in learning new things. The opportunity to see the world again through your child’s eyes is truly wonderful; I know many of you reading this would agree.

For the past few years, we have been involved with a group of families that share a common interest in STEM-based activities for their kids. At first, I was a participant in the group and over the years was lucky to become the co-leader. It goes without saying; this is a rewarding experience for me. It can be a time-consuming endeavor, but I fortunately work for a company that places a high value on work/life balance.

Planning Our Project

We have bi-weekly meetings to cover topics with the kids that range from soldering to circuitry, robotics to app development, and even movie making to costume design. Earlier this year, my friend and the other co-leader of the group, Shawn, had the great idea to build a high altitude balloon (HAB) (also referred to as a weather balloon) with the group.

The kids met for a few weeks to plan the event. They needed to decide and build a number of Arduino-based sensors that would go up with the balloon. A cargo area had to be configured to hold all pieces of the hardware we were sending up, which also included a GoPro camera. And, they needed to work with the mentors to build a radar deflector that fit FAA safety guidelines for the launch.

We planned the launch day based on output from weather data on wind patterns and estimated travel path and distance. The information we had read stated that chances of recovery for your equipment may be as low as 50%, and we definitely wanted not only the data back, but also our GoPro!

Launch Day!

Launch day came and excitement was palpable; though I think the parents and mentors were just as excited as the kids involved! Honestly, wouldn’t you be? We were attempting something incredible, something I remember only hearing about scientists and maybe even NASA doing when I was growing up! As we went through final assembly, equipment check, and filled the balloon with helium, everyone involved was smiling ear to ear. The kids got to do a final countdown as we were about to release.

Launch time came and we sent off our hard work, with our fingers crossed!


Our stats from the launch are as follows:
Launch 8:26 AM PST
Land 10:34 AM PST
Recovered 10:40 AM PST

Max elevation 81,880 ft.
Ascent rate 13.9 ft./sec (98 minutes)
Descent rate 43.8 ft./sec (30.5 minutes)

Total distance
60.1 km / 37.34 miles

This was accomplished by a group of young minds ranging from 8 to 13 years of age, assisted by mentors. I consider myself lucky to be involved with this group. I think this is a memory they’ll have for their lifetimes; I know I will.

What Is Your Passion In Life?

The #ExpectMore campaign Quest is currently running to promote the use of its end-to-end solutions to enable work/life balance for our customers is truly something that they themselves believe and practice. Just check out the interesting things I am able to do working for Dell. I’d love to hear about your experiences with STEM, with sports, or with other activities you enjoy and promote with your kids.


Had a great time with family and friends last night for 4th of July. Captured plenty of pictures and video, as usual, but this one is definitely a favorite.

I reflected on this picture this morning and I can’t help but think of present moment. As he gets older, he’s naturally starting to assert his independence. I know this is natural. He’s growing up. Quickly.

Probably too quickly for me.

I do admit, for me, this is probably the most difficult of his life stages so far. The time is coming when my little buddy doesn’t necessarily want to hang out with me any longer. Not in a bad or negative way, just to say that his independence is becoming more and more important to him. He enjoys being on his own. It’s funny, on occasion when he has a friend over and yells downstairs for me to come join them in playing Nintendo, I jump at the chance. I do enjoy playing video games, but that has little to do with why I practically run up those stairs. No, it’s because I know the invitations will become less and less frequent as he grows up.

I also take solace knowing that years after this, the invitations to hang out will return.

For the time-being, I get to see him grow into a young man. Propping him up as best I can.

Happy Mother’s Day

“Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.”

— William Makepeace Thackeray

In my life, I have been fortunate enough to know, and be loved by, some incredible women. I know that many of their efforts have been what turned me into the person I am.

My Wife has been the pillar of every success I’ve had for more than half of my life now. I am also fortunate enough to call her my best friend.

My Mom showed me what family means.

My Grandma showed me what unconditional love really is.

Happy Mother’s Day