Jacob Tanner Geistweidt graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Manufacturing Engineering Technology with a Business Administration minor from Texas A&M University in College Station December 16, 2011. Jacob was a member of the Texas A&M Chapter of Sigma Alpha Pi, The National Society of Leadership and Success and also received the Deans Honor Award for Academic Excellence. He participated in Aggies for Christ, intramural sports, and worked at a Civil Engineering Firm in College Station during his sophomore year.
Jacob graduated from Fredericksburg High School in 2007 and was active in football and track. A captain of his football team, he played most often as a middle linebacker and helped his team reach the Area Playoff Game. Jacob was honorable mention All-District 27AAAA linebacker as a Junior and second team All-District 27AAAA linebacker as a senior. He was selected as a member of the Academic All-District Football Team and the Academic All-State Team for Football. With votes being cast by members of his team, Jacob was honored by his teammates for being chosen as Mr. Football.
He was a member of the National Honor Society his Junior and Senior years. Jacob received an invitation to the 2006 Congressional Student Leadership Conference and received recognition of academic excellence, extracurricular involvement and leadership. While at FHS, Jacob participated in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, serving as an officer. He was honored for an achievement in mathematics and its applications.
He was a member of the Junior Engineering Society and the Fredericksburg High School Ignite Program participating in Research and Development for rockets with support from NASA. Over the course of about five years the Fredericksburg High School Aero Science students designed and built two rockets, Redbird 10 and Redbird 11. Each rocket was approximately 20 feet in length, with Redbird 10 being 10 inches in diameter and Redbird 11 being 11 inches in diameter. In August of 2007, Jacob along with fellow Aero Science students and their teachers took two rockets to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Jacob helped with both Redbird 10 and Redbird 11 rockets.
The following is an interesting story written by one of Jacob’s fellow students describing the events that unfolded at White Sands Missile Range and which appeared in the Fredericksburg newspaper in August 2007.
Redbird 10’s first countdown was originally scheduled; however, a delay resulted when the students repairing a faulty battery discovered the rocket’s nitrous oxide tank would not hold pressure. Later, when the students dismantled the rocket for repair, they learned the origin of the oxidizer tank’s problem, a defective O-ring. The seal was jammed in the oxidizer’s tank’s nitrous valve, preventing a piston from closing and resulting in a nitrous fuel leak. With hopes of launching the next day, the students worked at night to replace all the rocket’s 0 –rings and restored it to launch-ready condition by their deadline.
One of the teachers commented on the student’s enthusiasm, drive, focus, determination and on-the-spot problem solving ability. He saw this taking place on a constant basis for 18 hours a day making this the best experience he has ever had as an educator.
The situation, however, did not improve and to have another chance at launching the Redbird 10 rocket, it would have to wait until after Redbird 11’s turn was complete.
Redbird 11’s attempt had delays and difficulties of its own which led to an eventual aborted launch, leaving the Redbird 10 crew with a narrowed window of opportunity for their next attempt at rocket preparation and positioning on the launch pad.
Redbird 10’s crew prepared their rocket for launch. As they fueled the rocket, a loose fitting on the nitrous oxide actuator solenoid bled nitrous oxide. Although it was discovered and quickly tightened, the rocket wouldn’t take off after the launch sequence was completed. That’s because the previously leaking nitrous oxide froze the valve and contracted the rocket’s metal to the point of jamming the piston closed so that no fuel would flow through it. By this time, the White Sands Missile Range’s 8pm launch deadline was quickly approaching and the decision was made abort Redbird 10’s flight.
Redbird 10’s crew members were not the only ones to have issues at the launch pad during the trip. Following the mechanical issues which prevented FHS’s first planned launch, the Redbird 11’s crew was forced to deal with problems it couldn’t control—the weather.
Several thunderstorms moved through New Mexico forcing cancellation of Redbird 11’s launch time. Skies cleared for the Redbird 11’s rescheduled launch but mechanical problems then arose to cause delays and eventually cancellation of its launch as well.
First the rocket’s pressure valve was incorrectly venting at the wrong pressure. After that was resolved, fueling began, but the students discovered that a remote-operated vent valve was leaking. The students solved that problem as the rocket remained on the launch tower. Then, the rocket’s seven igniters (which are pyro charges that enable ignition during the launch sequence) did not receive adequate power to fire off, leaving the rocket grounded. With all the mechanical problems along with evidence of leaking from the injection, the launch for Redbird 11 was scrubbed in favor of letting the Redbird 10 have another try.
One of the teachers commented that many would say that the students failed because the rockets did not leave the launch pad, however, when he saw students gaining skills before his eyes that all engineers only learn after college and in the workforce, he questioned anyone who saw the processes and product as a failure.
After his graduation from Texas A&M Jacob went to work for Texas Hydraulics as a Manufacturing Engineer where he manages quality and efficiency. Jacob married Cortney Immel May 26, 2012 and they live in the Temple area.
Jacob is the son of Dale & Kaylyn Geistweidt and the grandson of Norma Geistweidt and Mary K. Draper.