RAYTOWN, Mo. -- A Raytown 17-year-old with an interest in astrophysics is breaking records left and right and has caught the attention of several top school across the nation.
Jacob Dodd is a senior at Raytown High School has earned perfect or near-perfect scores on all his college entrance exams. He's even already taking college level math courses.
"I never had a choice not to be hard working, so I just put my best into everything that I do," Dodd said.
Dodd is full of knowledge and has a keen interest in astrophysics and computer science. He plans to one day become an engineer. His passion dates back to when he was a child.
"I just kept on exploring and exploring," the Raytown teen said.
And that curiosity continues to this day.
"So here's a solar panel that would go up on the satellite that's already soldered," Dodd said.
He's the program leader of Raytown School District's satellite program.
"I've written most of the code that goes on the satellite and performs all of our operations," he said.
The satellite program is student-run and the group is building and launching a "low-earth orbit device" into space.
“About the size of your Gatorade bottle or soda can or something like that with all kinds of sensors," he said.
Dodd has been working on this project since his sophomore year. The satellite is close to completion, and the group is looking for a company-sponsor willing to launch it on a rocket.
Once in orbit, Dodd said it will stay there anywhere from three weeks to three months collecting information.
"Beam back data down to us, and we're going to collect that data," he explained.
Data such as temperature, humidity and time gyroscope information, among other things.
"He's a leader in everything he does,” said Jordan Lower, an Advanced Tech instructor at Raytown South High School.
Lower works one-on-one with Dodd,pretty much every day. He describes him as driven, saying he's a go-getter, who gets things done.
"Just taking the initiative on fixing problems that we come across," Lower said.
There's much more to Dodd's story than his passion for astrophysics. He’s the first African-American male valedictorian in Raytown South High School’s history.
"It's a really big title, and some people would put a lot of weight to it, but for me, it's just my everyday life," he said.
Dodd credits his parents and his environment for his success but said he wouldn't be where he is today without God.
Dodd is part of the MIT Online Science Technology and Engineering Community where he recently got back from the prestigious university after doing research projects in astrophysics. He's also the captain of his school's football team.
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