Contest Aims To Boost Interest In Space, Technical Fields
Students on 669 teams from 45
states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands are
preparing to launch their hand-designed rockets in the world's
largest rocket contest ... the eighth annual Team America Rocketry
Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association, the National
Association of Rocketry and more than 30 industry partners, with
participation by NASA, the Defense Department and the American
Association of Physics Teachers, the contest is designed to boost
the industry workforce by sparking interest in science, math and
engineering education among middle and high school students.
The aerospace industry faces a workforce challenge as more than
20 percent of the industry becomes eligible to retire by 2013. Not
enough students are entering aerospace engineering programs,
potentially leaving thousands of critical defense and other sector
positions unfilled as professionals retire.
This year's challenge is for each 3- to 10-member team to
design and build a model rocket that carries a single raw egg
payload to a precise altitude of 825 feet with a flight duration of
between 40 and 45 seconds, returning the egg to the ground
unbroken. The 100 teams with the best qualifying scores submitted
by April 5 compete at the finals at Great Meadow in The Plains, VA,
near Washington, D.C. on May 15,
In a 2009 survey among team members, 70 percent said they became
more interested in a STEM career as a result of TARC. For example,
contest alumnus Lieutenant (j.g.) Jerry Maniscalco graduated from
the Naval Academy with an aerospace engineering degree in 2007, and
is now piloting Seahawk helicopters in Jacksonville, FL.
"Each student has a critical role in designing their team's
rocket, and they learn to appreciate how engineering is both
exciting and mentally challenging," said Maniscalco. "TARC is
exactly what set me on the educational path to become an aerospace
The total purse for the contest is $60,000 in scholarships and
prizes. Raytheon Company pays for the winning team to attend a
"fly-off" at the Farnborough International Air Show near London in
July against teams from the UK and France.
Founded in 1919, the Aerospace Industries Association represents
the nation's leading manufacturers and suppliers of civil,
military, and business aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial
systems, space systems, aircraft engines, materiel, and related
components, equipment services, and information technology.