World’s largest rocketry contest brings top students to nation’s capital for final fly-off

Team America Rocketry Challenge announces top 100 teams competing in national championship

Arlington, Va. – More than 600 students across the country received news last Friday that they are advancing to the national finals of the 2015 Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC). After months of hard work and more than a thousand qualification flights, submissions were tabulated and the top 100 scoring TARC teams were confirmed. These teams will compete head to head at the final fly-off on Saturday, May 9 in The Plains, VA., outside of D.C.

This year’s cohort of top 100 teams hail from 27 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Included in these are a team of varsity athletes, a group of marching band members, and a team mentored by a TARC alumnus.Close to one third of the students advancing to the finals this year are female, including seven all-girl teams.

Structured to emulate the aerospace industry’s engineering design process, TARC challenges teams to design and build a model rocket that can travel to a height of 800 feet and back within 46 to 48 seconds. Each rocket will carry one raw egg (representing an astronaut) that must return safely to the ground undamaged. Scores are determined by how close the rockets come to the required height and time; damaged eggs disqualify flights.

To encourage ingenuity and creativity, students are challenged with new design and flight requirements each year. This year’s competition calls for the rocket to divide during flight, safely returning the motor and the egg to the ground in separate sections. In addition, there is a new twist to the scoring of flights in the second round at the national finals. This year, the top 42 placing teams will advance to the second round with new height and time restrictions, requiring their rockets to travel to 775 feet and back within 45-47 seconds. This will require teams to alter their strategy and rockets between rounds in order to meet the new scoring parameters.

TARC finalists are competing for scholarships and prizes totaling more than $60,000 and the chance to travel to the Paris International Air Show in June courtesy of the Raytheon Company. The winning team will represent the United States in the International Rocketry Challenge, facing off against teams from the United Kingdom and France.

Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association, the National Association of Rocketry and 27 industry partners, TARC is the world’s largest student rocketry contest. Since its inception in 2002, TARC has inspired more than 60,000 middle and high school students to further explore the possibilities of a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This year, close to 700 teams representing 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands designed and built model rockets in hopes of qualifying for the national finals.