The students from Madison West will now represent the United States at the International Rocketry Challenge at the Paris International Air Show in June, facing off against teams from France, the UK, and Japan.
“This feels amazing – I didn’t expect us to win today,” said team captain Jacob Mello. “We really didn’t know each other well at the beginning of the year, but we became friends and pulled together as a team. We encouraged each other, which really helped us today. There’s a lot of pressure to keep up America’s winning streak in the international competition, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Teams from Madison West now have won the Team America Rocketry Challenge three times. This year’s team, consisting of Mazelie Passmore (14), Ella Paulin (15), Ethan Lan (15), Rohan Yethiraj (15), Jacob Mello (15), Lukas Weinhold (14), Alex Goff (14), and Nathan Wagner (15), posted a combined score of 10 across their two launches. Persistence played a big role in the team’s win, as they were still practice launching the week of the contest.
The team’s victory follows months of preparation designing, building, and testing a rocket capable of meeting rigorous mission parameters set by the contest’s sponsors – the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), National Association of Rocketry, and more than 20 industry sponsors. This year’s rules celebrated the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 by requiring each rocket to carry three eggs in a separate capsule to symbolize the three astronauts that made the journey to the Moon and back.
The Top 101 teams, hailing from 25 states from Hawaii to New York, competed for a total of $100,000 in prize money and scholarships at the national finals – an all-day event held at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va., outside of Washington, D.C. The $100,000 prize pool will be split among the Top 10 teams, with Madison West taking home the top prize of $20,000 as U.S. champions. In addition, the top twenty-five finishers receive an invitation to participate in NASA’s Student Launch initiative to continue their exploration of rocketry with high-powered rockets and challenging mission parameters.
FAST FACTS ON THE ROCKETRY CHALLENGE:
- 830 teams from 46 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands competed in the 2019 edition of the contest.
- Since its inception in 2003, the contest has inspired more than 70,000 middle and high school students to explore education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields
Originally conceived as a celebration of a century of flight, the Team America Rocketry Challenge has become AIA’s signature STEM initiative and is supported by a broad array of aerospace and defense industry companies – led by Diamond Sponsor Raytheon – who see the challenge as a way to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists who will power the industry.
“Apollo 11 showed what was scientifically possible through teamwork, ingenuity and problem-solving skills,” said Raytheon Chairman and CEO Tom Kennedy. “In their own way, the TARC competitors also learned this valuable lesson. It’s a lesson they can use throughout their studies, and in careers that have the promise to further push the bounds of what’s possible in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”
“These kids are amazing. They leave no doubt that there’s a bright future for our industry and our country,” said AIA President and CEO Eric Fanning. “Providing students the opportunity to work with our experts and an outlet for their talents is one of the most important things we can do as an industry. We are rooting for every young woman and man who competed as they pursue their passions for STEM, and look forward to cheering on the first place team at the international competition in Paris a few weeks from now.”
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