BY Molly Congdon
CLIFTON PARK—When Shenendehowa senior Michael Kern was 10 years old, his father bought him a rocket kit for Christmas, a Saturn V that was three or four feet tall.
So it makes sense that he plans on majoring in aerospace engineering. “I like everything that’s going on in the space industry nowadays,” Kern said. “I’ve been really interested with all of the missions going to Mars over the last couple of years; growing up with all of that has been really exciting.”
He’s had enthusiasm for this field for many years. “When I was younger—my dad is an electrical engineer— and I got started with that at an early age,” Kern said. “I picked up on it and started doing stuff on my own.”
His dream job would be working for NASA or SpaceX one day.
There are several colleges where he Kern planning to submit an application such as MIT,University of Michigan, SUNY Binghamton and Buffalo, RPI.
However, his top choice is the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland; his father was in the navy. “He was on the USS Albany, the submarine, when he was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia and that’s where he met my mom,” Kern said. “And then—low and behold— they ended up moving to the Albany area.”
Selecting the Naval Academy would also allow him to pursue his other dream—serving in public office; the school has produced many astronauts as well as political leaders.
Currently his passions are at a stalemate. “I want to do both equally but I feel like you have to be younger to go into space and work with them, so I’ll probably do that first,” Kern said. “The person who captures that all for me is John Glenn because he was a marine first, which is a branch of the navy, and he was an astronaut for NASA in the 60’s and then later he became a senator; that sums it up for me.”
Kern was born in Virginia and moved to Clifton Park at a very young age.
His father, John, works for General Electric (GE) and his mother, Darlene, works at Tesago as a fifth grade teacher. He also has a younger brother Matt, who is a sophomore at Shenendehowa.
Aside from his studies, Kern rows for the Shenendehowa crew team; this year he is a co-captain. They just had their last race of the season at Head of the Fish on Saratoga Lake. “To me the best part is working with the motivated people who are some of my best friends,” Kern said. “We get faster together.”
He also is heavily involved in the Maker Club, a technology club which he started at the school. “We are trying to create a group of kids that are interested in coding, fabrication and robotics,” Kern said. “Teach them different skills and work on different projects to do cool things.”
Five questions for Michael Kern:
Q:What is the number one thing on your bucket list?
A: To go on a road trip across the country where you go from the Northwest to the Southwest and then to the Southeast; make a full circle of the country.
Q: If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
A: Flying because you could go wherever you wanted really quickly.
Q: If you could have any animal for a pet, what would it be?
A: A Dalmatian.
Q: Who has been your greatest influence?
A: It’s tie between my family and John Glenn.
Q: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.