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News Archive 2001 - 2010

Student Team Soars in “Battle of the Rockets” Competition

April 21, 2010

The Rocket Mavericks, a team of rocket enthusiasts comprised of aerospace and mechanical engineering majors at The University of Texas at Arlington, finished in second place in both of the challenges they entered in the recent “Battle of the Rockets” sponsored by Praxis, Inc., a developer of advanced technology aerospace systems. The team was competing against a dozen others from universities and high schools.

Aerospace engineering junior Jason Brown, the team’s captain, said the team had their best chance of placing first in the “planetary rover” competition. “Our rocket deployed our rover correctly and it landed safely and in the correct position. Unfortunately, an accelerometer failed to work properly; it was supposed to initiate the release of a marker indicating our landing spot so the judges could tell where our rover began its travel.”

However, the team’s two-kilo rover proved to be the most successful design, as the other entries landed on their sides, unable to move, or fell to the ground when their parachutes failed to deploy. No awards were given, as no team successfully completed all of the requirements of the challenge.

“The other teams gathered around to study our rover design - a rolling, toothed drum,” said Jason. The drum, consisting mostly of student engineered and machined aluminum and plastic parts, fit neatly inside its 8.5 inch-diameter rocket housing.

In the second event, an attempt to reach the highest altitude, the team’s rocket reached 7,049 feet, besting their last year’s winning 6,201 feet, but still only enough to take second place this year.

Other students on the team were John Andrews, Matthew Crisanti, Shawn Edwards, James Merkel, Thomas McCall, Josh McGuire and Vincent Ricketts. The team received financial support from the Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Department, the Joint Council of Engineering Organizations and the Student Governance Office. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Assistant Professor Bernd Chudoba is the team’s advisor. The team also received advice and support from MAE Professor Bob Woods, who provided a new lightweight, high altitude fin design, and Industrial Engineering Professor Brian Huff, who provided some of the electronics for the rover and assisted with programming them.

Next year, the team is considering entering a more difficult and prestigious event sponsored by NASA and ATK, a defense contractor. “This one is more like a regular NASA project, with more reports, presentations and challenges,” said Jason. “The payloads have to have scientific monitoring and recording capabilities. Teams are allowed to spend up to $5,000, which is about three times what we spent to participate in the Battle of the Rockets, and that included travel expenses to Virginia. If we enter, we’re going to have to do a lot more fundraising.”