Club Ambassador Larry Powell shines the light on STEM careers for North Alabama students
Engineers tackle challenges with the intent to improve processes or designs. For Larry Powell, that approach happens both as an industrial engineer at Blue Origin and a Club for the Future Ambassador. Larry uses this approach to engage with students and build opportunities for those in need, leaving things better than how he found it.
Larry grew up in the small, rural town of Dickenson, Ala., and studied computer science before switching to industrial engineering. The versatility of the engineering discipline enticed him. “As industrial engineers, we are always trying to make things better, which is why it’s a great role for me,” he said.
After graduating from the University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering, Larry worked in automotive manufacturing. He joined Blue Origin in April 2020 at the company’s manufacturing facility in Huntsville. “I never thought I would be in aerospace until I applied for a job at Blue,” he said. “Manufacturing rocket engines is challenging and fun!”
Being a Club for the Future Ambassador is one of Larry’s favorite things about working at Blue Origin.
When he’s not building engines, Larry volunteers at Bob Jones High School in Madison, Ala. He’s currently working with a group of 20 students from the school’s construction academy to design, engineer and build a postbox for Club for the Future’s Postcards to Space program. The students began the postbox project in September and expect to finish in December.
The project is immersing students in a hands-on experience with different phases of design engineering – from an idea on paper to final production. They’re also learning the value of communication, collaboration and respect for each person's ideas. Once the postbox is complete, the students will work with the exhibits team at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to install it in the Spark!Lab, an interactive, hands-on activity area at the museum. Visitors will drop their completed postcards in the postbox to be flown to space on a future Blue Origin mission.
Larry loves watching young innovators have their own “light bulb moments” and gain confidence in their abilities to design, engineer and build. “I enjoy pouring knowledge into future generations and having the opportunity to change the trajectory of someone’s life by showing them that I believe in them,” he said. “It’s such a rewarding role. I’m excited that I get to do this.”
School leaders have recognized Larry’s efforts, too.
“Community partnerships are vital to the success of our public schools,” said Lee Shaw, Development Office Coordinator at Madison City Schools. “With engineering expertise in our backyard, our students are able to hear from the professionals, be inspired by their successes, gain mentorship from their experiences, and see how their hopes and dreams for the future can come true.”
In addition to volunteering his time to connect with future engineers through Club for the Future, Larry also dedicates time to support Riah Rose Home for Children, Huntsville Downtown Rescue Mission, and the Salvation Army. He focuses on volunteering with organizations that let people know they are valued.
“We are blessed to bless others,” he said.
Keep an eye on Club for the Future’s website and social media for more Club Ambassador spotlights and learn how you can get involved.