A five student team from Odle Middle School in Bellevue, Washington, and sponsored by Raytheon Company (NYSE: RNT) won the first place position in the International Rocketry Challenge at the 2016 Farnborough International Airshow on July 15th—for the second year in a row, a team from the US has claimed this title in this international competition.
The teams designed, built and launched rockets with the goal of reaching an altitude of exactly 850 feet within a 44- to 46-second flight window. This year's contest required rockets to carry two raw eggs, placed perpendicular to each other in the rocket's body, a task that complicated rocket design. Scores were determined by how close the rockets approached the required height and time; cracked eggs disqualified the flight.
The U.S. team, all eighth graders, included Mikaela Ikeda, 12; Stephanie Han, 13; Srivatshan Sakthinarayanan, 14; Karl Deerkop, 14; and Larry Jing 14. The students presented their rocket design to a panel of international judges at Raytheon's Farnborough International Airshow headquarters. The contest, which is intended to build communication and presentation skills, counted for 40 percent of their total competition score. The U.S. took first place in this exacting portion of the challenge.
The International Rocketry Challenge is the culmination of four separate competitions that are held annually around the globe: the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the National Association of Rocketry (NAR); the United Kingdom Aerospace Youth Rocketry Challenge (UKAYRoC) sponsored by ADS, the UK Aerospace, Defense, Security and Space association; the French Rocketry Challenge sponsored by Groupement des Industries Francaises Aeronautiques et Spatiales (GIFAS), the French aerospace industries association; and, for the first time, the Japanese Rocketry Challenge, sponsored by the Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies and the Japan Association of Rocketry.
Each contest brings together teams of middle and high school students to design, build and launch model rockets with the goal of inspiring young minds to become engaged in science, technology, engineering and math.
For more than a decade, Raytheon has supported the winners of the Team America Rocketry Challenge as they compete at international air shows. The program is part of the company's broad-based MathMovesU® initiative to encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
"Congratulations to the Space Potatoes and all of the IRC participants. Your hard work and ingenuity proves the future of our industry is bright," was the message from Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO David F. Melcher. "This is a great example of our global partnership to improve youth interest in aerospace and STEM education."
Mikaela Ikeda, captain of the Odle Middle School "Space Potatoes" rocketry team, reported that representing the entire country was really intimidating. She added, "Luckily, we had each other for support and everyone did their jobs perfectly."
According to Thomas A. Kennedy, Raytheon Chairman and CEO, TARC showcases the promise of young minds from around the world—competing in the aerospace industry's flagship rocketry competition teaches future engineers that subject matter expertise, competitive discriminators and collaboration drive successful missions.