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Students Compete for National Title with Hand-Built, Self-Engineered Rockets, Fueling America’s STEM Pipeline
April 13, 2011
After nearly half a year of rocketry design, simulated flights and practice launches, 100 teams of middle and high school students from across the country are heading to the nation’s capital to compete for the title of Team America Rocketry Challenge national champion.
The Aerospace Industries Association released the names of the 100 qualifying teams that will compete in the final round of the ninth annual contest on May14. The finalists come from 34 states.
“We’re looking forward to an intense and exciting competition,” said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey. “We expect close to 700 students, representing a cross-section of the next generation of aerospace talent, to converge on the launch pad this May.”
The contest aims to inspire students to pursue further study and ultimately careers in science, math and engineering. Each three- to ten-person team is challenged to design and build a rocket that will lift off to an altitude of exactly 750 feet during a 40- to 45-second flight carrying a raw egg, which must return to the ground undamaged by parachute.
This year’s top 100 teams include some first-time qualifiers, as well as students in their fourth-straight year of competition. Several schools have multiple teams competing against each other. Teams are led by dedicated teachers and mentors; some are experienced veterans while others are learning along with their students.
More than 50,000 students have entered the competition since TARC’s inception in 2003. In a 2010 survey of TARC alumni, 92 percent of participants said they would encourage a friend to pursue a STEM-related career and four out of five respondents said TARC has had a positive impact on their course of study.
This year’s national finals will be held on Saturday, May 14, at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va. Raytheon Company is a major sponsor, providing event support and funding for the winning team to attend an international fly-off at the Paris Le Bourget Air Show in June against teams from the UK and France. Teams also compete for up to $60,000 in scholarships and prizes including $15,000 in additional scholarships provided by Lockheed Martin Corporation.
The contest is sponsored by AIA and the National Association of Rocketry, in collaboration with the Defense Department; NASA; the American Association of Physics Teachers; Estes, a model rocket manufacturer, and more than 30 industry partners.