The Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC), sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association and National Association of Rocketry, is the world’s largest model rocketry contest and the aerospace industry’s flagship program designed to encourage students to study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Designed to emulate the aerospace industry’s design and engineering process, TARC challenges students to design, build and launch a model rocket carrying a raw egg and returning it safely to earth. A recent survey of TARC alumni showed that exposure to aerospace through TARC has had a positive impact on students’ career choices, as 81% of past participants plan to pursue careers in a STEM-related field.
This is a continuation in a series of spotlight features on TARC alumni who have decided to continue their studies in engineering and are now working in the aerospace industry.
Victor Murphy: Huntsville, AL
Since middle school, Victor Murphy has passionately fought for the importance of educational rocket engineering and STEM-based education.
From 2007-2012, Victor competed in TARC and continued his TARC expereince by mentoring his team during his first 2 years in college. Victor's tea, placed among the top finalists twice (2008,2009) and among the top 20 in the U.S. (2010,2013). Victor has given presentations to the NASA's Student Launch Initiative for his middle school rocket team; the Huntsivlle Association of Techonology about the benefit of educational rocketry; as well as the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) about his rocket team's expereince at TARC.
"Programs like the intern program at ULA and the TARC [competition] allow students to witness applications of math and science instead of only seeing math on a blackboard and in a text book. It allows the students to feel a sense of accomplishment when they get rockets to fly." Victor said. "It made me think if I can do this, why can't I someday build a real rocket? I realized that I can, all I have to do is set my goals and work toward them!"
Victor graduated high school with a 3.6 GPA and won the SAVECA (Strengthening Alabama via Education and Cultural Awareness) Scholarship, the Christian Brothers Lasallian Scholarship, as well as the Huntington College Scholarship. He was also named Regional finalist in the Science Olympiad; selected for the Spanish Honor Society; was one of two students selected from Alabama to participate in Auburn’s McWhoter School of Building Science Building Construction Camp; and was invited to participate in NASA’s Student Launch Initiative.
Despite his impressive credentials, Victor still finds time to give back to his community. During his mentorship of his high school TARC team, Victor helped the team build two payloads that went up in the rocket “Future” (a rocket built by the interns at the United Launch Alliance (ULA)). Besides mentoring his own team, Victor has worked with inner-city school children on rocketry and worked in several environment-conservation programs.
Victor is currently a junior at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and is attaining a degree in Aerospace Engineering.