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Hear the Homemade Jet Engine Built by a High School Student
[youtube https://youtu.be/I8Iwwu63M2s]

Want to learn to build a jet engine? Just go to high school with Chris Tomko. The 18-year-old student, with a few friends, has built his own jet engines. From scratch.

At the World Maker Faire in New York, we saw Tomko demo his G1 home-built engine. After a thorough safety review, and clearing a large space around the engine on its tray on the ground, and much more space behind the output nozzle, Tomko and his team gave a quick explanation of the engine and then fired it up.

The intake side of the G1. (Photo: Rafe Needleman)
The intake side of the G1. (Photo: Rafe Needleman)
Side of the G1. Nice control panel. (Photo: Rafe Needleman)
Side of the G1. Nice control panel. (Photo: Rafe Needleman)

“It’s going to get extremely loud,” one of Tomko’s friends said to the audience from the other side of the barriers.

Tomko said the engine generates about 20 pounds of thrust when running at max output. The engine is fueled by propane; Tomko said his engine will empty a canister in about nine minutes.

When the engine was spooled up (by having a leaf blower push air into the blades), the team lit the spark and fed in the propane. Loud, deep pops were followed by a sound like a vacuum cleaner from hell, as they gently turned the engine up.

After running for a few minutes at about 50% capacity, the engine shut down and the crowd applauded. We went to talk to Tomko after the demo and get some photos of the engine. The heat coming off it kept us at a distance. Tomko said it takes about 10 minutes to cool down before he’ll even attempt to move it.

Tomko’s second engine, the G2, is fueled by diesel, and incorporates a number of design improvements. His newer engine has also been freed from its palette mount: Tomko built a custom go kart to test it out. Check out the video of a test run below.

[youtube https://youtu.be/-XD6vFbo_cU]

Be sure to check out Tomko’s site, Tomkotech, for build logs and more great photos of his beautiful jet engines.

Jet engine building Chris Tomko and friends. We awarded him an Editors' Choice award at World Maker Faire.
Jet engine building Chris Tomko and friends. We gave him an Editors’ Choice award at World Maker Faire.

7 thoughts on “Hear the Homemade Jet Engine Built by a High School Student

  1. I’m no expert but I’d guess he’s sitting on a couple thousand dollars worth of turbos there. I could’ve used an allowance like that when I was a kid!

  2. Great job! But maybe should revise the text about “The 18-year-old student, with a few friends, has built his own jet engines. From scratch.” I don’t think he cast and machined a tubocharger.

    1. Two things. Chris built a jet engine, he did not claim to invent it. The other thing is he did not build this engine by taking another engine apart and reassembling it in a different housing. Building is actually designing and assembling something from discrete pieces.

      1. I did not say Chris invented the jet engine. I was calling out the author of the article who said: “From scratch.” That term implies a lot more.

        When I read from scratch that made me think he designed the compressor and machined it. Not to belittle his accomplishment but there are many that have done the same with a turbocharger.

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Rafe Needleman

Rafe Needleman is the editor-in-chief of Maker Media. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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