World’s Largest Student Rocket Contest Shows Momentum in Growing Strong Workforce
AIA’s Team America Rocketry Challenge announces its top 100 teams for national fly-off in May.
Arlington, Va. – Hundreds of students from across the country will meet May 11 at Great Meadow in The Plains, VA to decide the winner of the world’s largest student rocket contest. The Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) has been captivating students nationwide for the past decade, encouraging them to advance their education and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
In a year of record turnout, attracting 725 teams, only the top 100 will proceed to compete in TARC’s final fly-off. The top 100 teams represent 29 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and a diverse cross-section of American youth. Teams include students from urban and rural America, all-girls teams, a record number of 4-H teams and a team comprised entirely of Civil Air Patrol volunteers.
Over the next month, these students will be working tirelessly to perfect their rockets as they set out to compete for the national title, more than $60,000 in scholarships and a chance to participate in NASA’s prestigious Student Launch Initiative. Also, amid education budget cuts, a number of teams advancing to finals will have to take on the challenge of funding their trips to the national fly-offs.
“Qualifying within the top 100 is an incredibly challenging and exciting achievement,” said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey. “But equally impressive are the nearly 5,000 students who were inspired to explore science, engineering and technology through their participation in this year’s challenge.”
While demand for STEM-skilled workers continues to grow, the United States consistently falls short in international comparisons of STEM education. Reports show that America ranks behind other countries in preparedness for careers in STEM, with U.S high school students placing 17th in science and 25th in math out of 35 countries according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Now in its 11th year, TARC has motivated more than 55,000 students to pursue STEM courses and careers – often bridging economic, linguistic and cultural barriers to enter the nation’s most coveted and lucrative occupations.
“Now more than ever, we see how essential programs like the TARC are for inspiring a new generation toward rewarding STEM careers,” said Raytheon Chairman and CEO William H. Swanson. “Raytheon is proud to support this exciting competition which provides students a unique opportunity to personally design, build and launch their own rockets. We believe these “learn by doing” experiences foster the development of skills and enthusiasm that will help ultimately strengthen our communities, bolster American innovation and improve our role in the global marketplace.”
Industry partners such as Raytheon Company and Lockheed Martin work hand-in-hand with the Aerospace Industries Association and the National Association of Rocketry to sponsor TARC. Raytheon Company provides critical funding for the winning team to compete in an international fly-off held at the Paris Air Show in June against teams from the UK and France.