U.S. Rocketry Students Soar at International Championship

Middle School Students from Bellevue, Washington Win Contest at  Farnborough International Airshow

London — Five students from Odle Middle School in Bellevue, Washington, took first place in the International Rocketry Challenge at the 2016 Farnborough International Airshow on July 15. The U.S. team, sponsored by the Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN), bested teams from the United Kingdom, France and Japan. This is the second straight year a team from the United States claimed the international title.

Winning USA team with John Hochheimer Vice President of the National Association of Rocketry, Tim Peake British ESA, Prince Michael of Kent, Farnborough Airshow
Winning USA team with John Hochheimer Vice President of the National Association of Rocketry, Tim Peake British ESA, Prince Michael of Kent, Farnborough Airshow


“The International Rocketry Challenge brings together students from around the world, and is a great example of our global partnership to improve youth interest in aerospace and STEM education,” said Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO David F. Melcher. “Congratulations to the Space Potatoes and all of the IRC participants. Your hard work and ingenuity proves the future of our industry is bright.”

The teams designed, built and launched rockets with a goal of reaching an altitude of exactly 850 feet within a 44- to 46-second flight window. This year’s contest required rockets to carry two raw eggs, placed perpendicular to each other in the rocket’s body, a task that complicated rocket design. Scores were determined by how close the rockets approached the required height and time; cracked eggs would disqualify the flight.

“Representing the entire country was really intimidating,” said Mikaela Ikeda, captain of the Odle Middle School “Space Potatoes” rocketry team. “Luckily, we had each other for support and everyone did their jobs perfectly!”



The U.S. team, all eighth graders, included Mikaela Ikeda, 12; Stephanie Han, 13; Srivatshan Sakthinarayanan, 14; Karl Deerkop, 14; and Larry Jing 14.

The students presented their rocket design to a panel of international judges at Raytheon’s Farnborough International Airshow headquarters. The contest, which is intended to build communication and presentation skills, counted for 40 percent of their total competition score. The U.S. took first place in this portion of the challenge.

“TARC showcases the promise of young minds from around the world,” said Thomas A. Kennedy, Raytheon Chairman and CEO. “Competing in the aerospace industry’s flagship rocketry competition teaches future engineers that subject matter expertise, competitive discriminators and collaboration drive successful missions.”

The International Rocketry Challenge is the culmination of four separate competitions held annually around the globe: the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the National Association of Rocketry (NAR); the United Kingdom Aerospace Youth Rocketry Challenge (UKAYRoC) sponsored by ADS, the UK Aerospace, Defense, Security and Space association; the French Rocketry Challenge sponsored by Groupement des Industries Francaises Aeronautiques et Spatiales (GIFAS), the French aerospace industries association; and, for the first time, the Japanese Rocketry Challenge, sponsored by the Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies and the Japan Association of Rocketry.


Each contest brings together teams of middle and high school students to design, build and launch model rockets with the goal of inspiring young minds to become engaged in science, technology, engineering and math.

For more than a decade, Raytheon has supported the winners of the Team America Rocketry Challenge as they compete at international air shows. The program is part of the company’s broad-based MathMovesU® initiative to encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).