Peyton Meader is third from the left on the 2023 MIT First Nations launch team, MIT Doya. submitted photo

CAMBRIDGE, MA — Peyton Meader, part of the MIT Doya team, was recently quoted in MITNews, a publication by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Peyton was a Gould Academy student in Bethel and is a second-year chemical engineering major at MIT. Excerpts from the story are below.

Earlier this year, MIT’s First Nations Launch team participated in the 2023 First Nations Launch, an international NASA-Artemis Student Challenge hosted by the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium that focuses on Indigenous representation and science in aerospace engineering through rocketry. It was the first time MIT has ever competed in this challenge, now in its 15th year.

Over two semesters, an all-Indigenous team of students including both undergraduates and grad students came together to design, build, test, document, present, and launch a roughly 8-foot rocket made from scratch entirely at MIT. The 2023 challenge in particular required the team to develop carbon fiber and fiberglass composite layup techniques in order to create an airframe that was as light as possible while maintaining structural integrity.

“I didn’t really think I’d be joining a rocket team, and then I’d heard there was an all-Indigenous build team starting. I thought, yeah, this could be a good way to connect to the community here,” says Peyton Meader, a Passamaquoddy Tribe member who joined the team as a first-year and serves as the safety/avionics lead.

The team chose the name Doya (ᏙᏯ), meaning “beaver” in the Cherokee language; the name was suggested by team member Hailey Polson, who is a Cherokee citizen. At the First Nations Launch contest last spring, MIT Doya successfully blasted their rocket to a height of 1,290 meters, ultimately receiving the second-place grand prize award. The team was also named rookie team of the year.

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