“It started as an idea,” says Oliver Ravn, IT intern at Pond, talking about his high school engineering club’s weather balloon. Oliver had an original idea to craft a weather balloon with his engineering club, but he knew that it was going to be a time-consuming and expensive project. The team had worked on a few projects, including egg drops, launchers and many other things, but they wanted to stretch themselves to do something different.

The engineering club team knew that engineering a weather balloon would be the project to challenge them but they didn’t know where they would get funding to begin. They started to look for sponsorship opportunities from different companies in the hopes that someone would sponsor their dream project. Oliver and teammate, William Macdonald, had recently joined Pond’s team as IT interns and decided to reach out to Pond for the sponsorship opportunity. Pond was thrilled to be a part of the creation, launch and retrieval of the weather balloon.

It took the club four months to build the weather balloon. The concept of the balloon was a cubic foot box with a long latex balloon that was tethered to the top of a parachute, and attached to a radar reflector that was connected to an insulated box where they mounted trackers, cameras and a data logger. After the initial conceptual structure of the balloon, they added some miscellaneous items that they could test, which included an egg in a cylinder, a large latex balloon and a marshmallow. After much testing and trials, the weather balloon launched and was in flight for five-and-a-half hours. It experienced temperatures as low as -30 to -35 degrees Fahrenheit before it reached its peak.

“Without Pond’s sponsorship, this project wouldn’t have been a success,” says William Macdonald. As a newer engineering club, Oliver and William both noted that the project not only encouraged the club to go to another level, but it also showed their school that an engineering club is a fun and relevant investment.

“Pond’s sponsorship added to the overall success of the project,” says Oliver Ravn. “We wouldn’t have been able to get all the equipment that we needed and we wouldn’t have had the time to do all of the software engineering. The number one priority would have been saving money, not learning from it.”

With all the lessons learned and the data they gathered, Oliver and William are seeking to rebuild the balloon soon and hopefully can make the project faster, smoother and more seamless. To view this successful weather balloon project, click here.


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