Idaho State University Rocket Club Competes in Spaceport America Cup for First Time
August 24, 2022
For the first time in school history, Idaho State University students competed in one of the world’s largest intercollegiate rocket engineering competitions.
Earlier this summer, ISU Rocket Club members competed against more than 100 teams from across the globe in the Spaceport America Cup 2022 in Southern New Mexico. The competition pits student-designed, high-powered rockets against one another, competing to be the closest to their target altitude. For the competition, students complete all aspects of engineering the rocket, including research, design, and testing.
“The opportunity to see the culmination of theory and design was exhilarating,” said Andrew Anderson, a senior mechanical engineering major from Grace, Idaho and ISU Rocket Club team lead for the Spaceport America Cup. “To go from testing our rocket on the Hutchinson Quadrangle to a launch in New Mexico is something the team and club members are proud to be a part of.”
Idaho State's rocket - Flying Tiger - competed in the 10,000 feet division, meaning their rocket motor had to reach a target altitude of 10,000 feet. When Flying Tiger took to the skies, it reached a height of 10,699 feet and netted the club a finish just outside the top ten. Idaho State placed 12th out of 66 teams in their division and 22nd out of 101 teams with all different motor types in the 10,000 feet category.
“As first-time competitors with a limited budget and equipment, the results were very validating,” Anderson said. “We put in the work and launched and recovered a rocket that flew about two miles above the ground.”
Participating in Spaceport America Cup 2022 marks the culmination of nearly four years of effort and the work of more than a dozen current and former students. The competition had been called off for the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This launch has been a long time coming,” said Marco Schoen, professor and chair of ISU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. “It was a student-driven project, and they were engaged at all levels, dedicating countless hours to designing, simulating, building, and testing the different parts and systems of the rocket. Considering everything that went into the rocket and ultimately ended with a successful flight, it is very rewarding to see, not only for the students but also the ISU faculty who’ve been a part of the project.”
The ISU Rocket Club is seeking new student members from all academic fields for the 2022-23 school year. Club members are looking to jump to the Spaceport America Cup’s 30,000-foot altitude division and need members to help with avionics, propulsions, structure, business, public relations, and more. Additionally, the club is looking for sponsors to help offset the costs of building and participating in the competition.
“I want to see the students have fun and get hands-on experience with what being an engineer is like and what can be achieved,” said Kellie Wilson, Teaching Lab Technician and Coordinator with ISU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. “From designing and building to problem-solving, the rocket competition is a great experience that allows students to be fully immersed in the process. It is also an opportunity to interact with other students with the same goal and make connections to propel them forward in their careers.”
To watch a student-produced video of the club’s time in New Mexico and see Flying Tiger in the air, visit isu.edu/me.
If you are a student interested in joining the ISU Rocket Club, contact Kellie Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More on the ISU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering can be found at isu.edu/me.