Concordia Shanghai Jan 9 2024

Inspiring Aerospace Innovation at Concordia Through Student Passion

Nurturing a childhood dream of soaring through the skies, Adam S., a G11 student at Concordia, is turning his aviation aspiration into a tangible passion. Despite his young age, Adam is already leaving a mark on the field of aerospace.


Below, he shares his journey from a flight simulation enthusiast to becoming a key contributor in expanding Concordia's aerospace program. His story highlights the role that dedicated teachers and supportive school programs have had in shaping his path towards success.

Early Inspirations

When I was younger, I was invited to visit Hangzhou Airport. To my surprise, I was able to see, what is essentially, the backstage of the airport—the air traffic control tower. As I looked out across the massive international airport, I was absolutely fascinated by the flashing radar screens. That singular moment was the inspiration for me to take up flying as my number one interest, though part of me believes it just came naturally.


For nearly a decade now, I’ve been learning about aerospace and practicing in flight simulators. As one might expect, flight simulation is not very easy, as it imitates the same difficult, real-life task required by highly trained pilots. I did not start off as a “good” pilot; there were too many tasks for my six-year-old brain to handle. I continued practicing consistently for years, and eventually moved on to more advanced flight simulators, and improved my flying skills enough to be considered a safe pilot. Through this, I gained a strong understanding of aviation and aerospace in general.

Finding a Niche in Concordia's Aerospace Program

Initially, I found that aerospace wasn't a common focus in schools. My previous schools didn't offer relevant courses or clubs, so my flying interests were confined to my free time. However, after coming to Concordia, I was able to join Drone Club in 9th grade, my first flying-related activity at school. Concordia’s comprehensive aerospace program surprised me, something I hadn’t seen before at all. Seeing Concordia’s Aerospace Engineering course on the school website, I was glad that I would finally have a place to demonstrate all I’d learned about aerospace. Unfortunately, I could not fit the course into my schedule, but I would soon be presented with a unique opportunity.


Early in my Sophomore year, as I was sitting in Algebra 2, trying to comprehend some really tough content that Dr. Tong was teaching, when I noticed two flight simulator stations at the back of the room. So approached Dr. Tong, who runs the aerospace program, and he invited me to help with the flight simulators. I enthusiastically got to work on the flight simulators, which I was certainly up for given my experience using other simulators. It seems that my experience in this field had left a good impression, as Dr. Tong gave me the opportunity to turn this small-scale operation with two flight simulators into a core part of Concordia’s aerospace program. I accepted, in the hopes of helping other students explore their interest in aviation.

Over the summer, with the support of Dr. Tong and Concordia Activities Department, I was able to acquire brand new PC parts and advanced flight simulation equipment that would improve the virtual flying experience for the Aerospace Engineering students. In September, I quickly got to work, and got the first new flight simulator station running Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. Very soon, I was able to demonstrate flight simulation at many school events, such as a demonstration to journalists as part of the Concordia STEM Program, the Back to School Bash, and the Maker Faire. I worked nonstop teaching young students how to fly at the Back-to-School Bash, with an even greater crowd at Maker Faire. At all these events, the flight simulator was an unprecedented success.


Soaring Over New Zealand's Peaks

During October break in 2023, I got to fly a Cessna 172 across the beautiful snow-capped peaks of New Zealand’s South Island. It was my first time flying in real life! Soaring over the mountains and looking across the Tasman Sea to the west made for a perfect first flight. This experience also taught me many elements of flying that simply could not be learned in a simulator, such as the element of stress and the many real-world variables that you don’t account for in a virtual environment.

Looking back at my long journey that began with a visit to Hangzhou Airport at the age of six, I realize I might have chosen a different path upon entering high school. This path could have involved abandoning aerospace as a hobby, considering the significant time commitment required for flight simulation, which I feared would disappear as I started high school. However, thanks to Dr. Tong's overwhelming support and the resources provided by Concordia aerospace program and the Activities Department, I was able to continue my pursuit of aviation, more than just as a hobby. Today, I am hopeful that the flight simulation component of Concordia’s aerospace program will not only help my peers deepen their interest in aviation but also enable them to discover a new hobby or, perhaps, inspire a future career in flying.