SUU Rocketry Team Places 3rd in International Competition

Published: October 07, 2019 | Author: Savannah Byers | Read Time: 2 minutes

Rocket Bird Students working on rocketIn addition to presenting at the annual Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC),  Southern Utah University’s student rocketry team ranked 3rd out of 16 teams in their category (10k-SRAD-Solid Motors), and 7th out of the 107 scored teams in the competition. 

“In past years we have had similar rankings within our category, but this is a huge jump up in over-all performance,” said Scott Munro, RocketBirds faculty advisor and associate professor of engineering at SUU. “The team has worked hard to improve their scores in areas where we have been deficient in the past and it is paying off.  I would like to commend the team on their incredible work.”

IREC, also known as the Spaceport America Cup, is an international rocketry competition with over one hundred universities participating. Universities such as Princeton, Yale, and Cornell have competed in the competition.

“The reason I started participating in this competition is because it looks phenomenal on an academic resume,” said student RocketBird Matthew Crawley. “When we are invited to speak with people from the aerospace industry, 100% of them tell us to continue working on the rocket team. It is the greatest thing we can do to improve our future positions after graduation.” 

a student with their hand raised, standing in front of a rocket

This year’s competition was held in the New Mexico desert and the RocketBirds were the eighth team in the competition to launch. The team’s rocket, standing eleven feet high and weighing in at 65 pounds, reached an altitude of 10,600 feet above the ground and the recovery system worked as designed. 

“The competition provides a unique learning experience that is difficult, if not impossible, to provide in the classroom,” said Munro. “The project is long term and students take it from concept through fabrication and flight. It requires teamwork, configuration management skills, and communication skills. Additionally, students manage the schedule and budget.” 

The RocketBirds were among 26 schools invited to present at the competition this year. They presented on propellant formulations and the benefits of low viscosity. Low viscous propellants reduce air bubbles in the mixing and casting process, and make launch simulations more than 99% accurate when compared to what’s produced. SUU is one of the only schools that manufacture such a propellant for their rocket.

“SUU has been dedicated to giving students the opportunity to participate in real engineering projects,” said student RocketBird Johnny Webster. “Something that sets us apart is the size of our department. With lower budgets than almost all teams, the RocketBirds do an excellent job without breaking the budget. We've done cost breakdowns in the past I believe and our team is one of the best performing for the price of the project.” 

The SUU RocketBirds club is open to all students who are interested in and committed to rocketry. No prior experience is required. Find more information by visiting the RocketBirds on T-Bird Connection or SUU’s Engineering and Technology Department


Tags: International Affairs Engineering

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