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First UTSA students invited to premier NASA competition

First UTSA students invited to premier NASA competition

Two student organizations in the College of Engineering have joined forces to represent UTSA in the NASA competition.

Oct. 21, 2019 — For the first time in school history, UTSA engineering students have been invited to participate in the 20th NASA Student Launch competition. Two student organizations in the College of Engineering—the Aeronautics and Rocket Club and Advanced Robotics teams—will join forces to represent the university. The teams are led by Mark Ramirez, Kyle Fetter, Garrett Parker, Adam Knippa and Enrique Ornelas. 

“Our NASA Student Launch team has aggressive engineers who are going for it. They are currently designing a rocket that is 101 inches in length with a 7.7-inch-diameter body powered with a high-power reloadable rocket engine. We expect it to reach an altitude around 4,500 feet,” says James Johnson, associate professor in practice in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. “It’s fun to be a rocket scientist!” 

The teams will head to Huntsville, Alabama, in April 2020 to compete against 64 teams from 21 states and Puerto Rico. They will be required to design, build, test and fly a payload and high-powered amateur rocket to an altitude of 4,000 to 5,500 feet. Teams participating in the college division will participate in a payload challenge in which they will collect 10 milliliters of simulated lunar ice from one of five sample locations and safely store them aboard their vehicle. 

Teams will also have the opportunity to predict their rocket’s altitude when submitting their preliminary design review package. Awards will be provided to the those with rocket altitudes that reach closest to their predictions on launch day. Teams are also evaluated and given points and awards in nearly a dozen other categories, including safety, vehicle design, social media presence and STEM engagement. 

NASA Student Launch is a research-based competitive experiential exploration activity. It strives to provide relevant, cost-effective research and development of rocket propulsion systems. This project offers multiple challenges reaching a broad audience of middle and high schools, colleges, and universities across the nation.

Julie Paulson

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