STEM contest winners to represent U.S. at international fly-off in England
Contest winners with Raytheon's Rick Hunt, Vice President of Navy and Marine Corps Programs, in front of the Raytheon exhibit. Winners left to right: Andrew White, 16; Bailey Robertson, 15; Amanda Semler, 18; Austin Bralick, 16; Nick Dimos, 16.
The Plains, Va. – Students from Creekview High School of Canton, Ga. outperformed hundreds of their peers from across the country Saturday to earn first place at the twelfth annual Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC). Champions Amanda Semler, 18; Andrew White, 16; Nick Dimos, 16; Austin Bralick, 16; and Bailey Robertson, 15; bested more than 700 other teams representing 48 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands to earn the national title.
TARC is the world’s largest student rocket contest and the aerospace and defense industry’s flagship program designed to encourage students to pursue study and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association, the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) and more than 20 industry partners, TARC provides middle and high school students the opportunity to design, build and launch model rockets in a competition among more than 5,000 students nationwide.
“I’m a senior, so this is a dream come true,” said Semler, who is also the team’s captain. “We’re so thankful for the chance to come to the nation’s capital, and to Raytheon for the chance to go to England.”
The 2014 challenge was one of the most difficult in TARC’s history. Students were tasked with designing and building a rocket that could fly to 825 feet and back within 48 to 50 seconds while carrying precious cargo — two raw eggs that must return to the ground undamaged. The dual-parachute requirement combined with the tight timing window and other structural criteria required nearly six months of diligent preparation by the teams.
“We are very proud of our 2014 champions and the incredible effort all of the teams put into the competition this year,” said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey. “Many of these students spent months developing and perfecting their rockets for the finals. That level of drive and perseverance will serve them well in college and as they prepare to enter the workforce. Our industry feels very fortunate to have such a talented incoming cohort.”
As a strong supporter of women in STEM, TARC is proud of the many all-girl teams that compete each year. Here the Purple Pumas, from Clear Falls High School in TX, leave the Raython sponsored community tent.
Over its 12-year tenure TARC has proven to be an invaluable contributor of young talent to STEM-focused areas of study and, ultimately, careers over its tenure. A 2010 survey of TARC alumni found that 80 percent of respondents went on to major in related technical fields.
With all teams aiming for a perfect score of zero, the Creekview High School logged a combined score of 14.88. They will travel to England in July to compete in an international fly-off against student teams from the U.K. and France at the Farnborough Air Show. In addition, $60,000 in scholarships and other prizes will be split among the competition's top 10 placing teams.
AIA has partnered with Raytheon to broaden the TARC program to the global stage. The 2014 champions will be the ninth consecutive team Raytheon has supported to travel to the international air show as part of the company’s broad-based MathMovesU® initiative to encourage students to pursue careers in STEM. Additional funding and prizes are provided by more than 20 industry partners including Lockheed Martin Corporation and Space Exploration Technologies Corporation.
For additional information on TARC, complete competition results and a full list of this year's sponsors, please visit www.rocketcontest.org.