Students from around the world attend STEM leadership academy in Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE Ala. -- Over 300 students from 35 different countries are in Huntsville to train like astronauts and explore science and technology-based careers. The Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center gives students the opportunity to build leadership skills by tackling real-world challenges in science, technology, engineering and math.

Sara Jane Lynn is a high school senior from Spokane, Washington. She attended the academy last year and is back as an ambassador.

"I think I have a strong interest in chemical engineering. I love chemistry and I think that this program really just assured that that's what I wanted to do with my life," Lynn said

Honeywell is a Fortune 100 company with employees in more than 100 different countries. Children of Honeywell employees, between the ages of 16 to 18,  apply for the academy and are chosen based on essays they write about why they want to go to the academy.

"Aviation, leadership, communications, robotics, software. I think that's what we want for them to plant the seed to find what you want and what you're passionate, and what you are gonna succeed," said Cecilia Tejeda, a Honeywell manager.

Tejeda said the students will be immersed in stem-focused, leadership training. She said the goal of the program is to inspire and prepare young people for the rapidly changing jobs of tomorrow.

At the academy, students participate in hands-on, team-based activities, like building, coding and testing rockets, simulated astronaut training, shuttle missions and a moonwalk all designed to emphasize stem education.
Jean-Baptiste Petit is an 18-year-old from France and lives in Bahrain. He did the program last year and said he's always liked cars, but the program assured him mechanical engineering was for him. He said one of his favorite parts was meeting the other students.
"All the people you meet, it's so amazing, from all over the world literally," Petit said. "Like in my room last year I had some guy from Japan, another guy from India, it was like really really nice."
Since the program started in 2010, Honeywell and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center have awarded over 2,000 scholarships to students of Honeywell employees to attend the academy.