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Missouri Students Win National Championship In World’s Largest Rocket Contest

Festus High School Rocketry Club Out Launch Nation’s Top Teams, Will Represent U.S. At International Competition In June

Proving their impressive prowess with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills, the Festus High School of Festus, Mo., captured first prize at the Team America Rocketry Challenge’s (TARC) Final Fly-off, held Saturday near Washington, D.C. They defeated the top 100 teams from across the United States, to win the world’s largest rocket contest.

“After we won, most of us weren’t sure whether we wanted to scream or run eight miles because that’s how much energy we had,” said 16-year-old Grace Basler, who was participating in TARC for the first time.

Devin Lorenz, 24, led the team as mentor and sponsor and is also a TARC alumnus from the Festus High School TARC team that finished runner up in the 2009 Final Fly-off.

“I’m amazed,” said Lorenz. “I didn’t even consider this a possibility. We wanted to get them to TARC and make sure they had a good time. It’s just an amazing accomplishment. I’m really proud of the team.”

To achieve victory, the team Rylie Martin, 16, Ashton Croft, 15, Grace Basler, 16, Christopher Carden, 18, Cydney Breier, 18, Timothy Ruesche, 17, Ryan Brown, 17, Ed Bohnert, 17, and Joel Marler, 17, had to design and launch a rocket capable of meeting precise engineering standards and mission requirements while protecting a raw egg throughout the flight of the rocket. The top-10 teams divided more than $100,000 in scholarships; the “STEAM-y Rocketry Club” won $20,000 and a trip to the International Rocketry Challenge in June, courtesy of the Raytheon Company.

“Our Team America Rocketry Challenge winners and all the students who competed demonstrated great skill, determination and spirit today,” said Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO David F. Melcher. “We’ll be rooting for our champions to keep the international title with the U.S. for the third consecutive year. We’re very proud of all the teams that helped make TARC’s 15th anniversary a memorable one.”

Since 2002, more than 65,000 middle and high school students have experienced hands-on engineering through the award-winning TARC program, developing skills to assist them in careers in STEM and aerospace.

TARC, the aerospace and defense industry’s flagship STEM program, is sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association, the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) and more than 20 industry partners, including the Raytheon Company, the Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin Corporation and Thales USA.

“This is the 12th year that Raytheon has sponsored the Team America Rocketry Challenge, and each year we find the level of individual and collective team commitment to be truly inspiring,” said Thomas A. Kennedy, Raytheon Chairman and CEO. “As the rocket scientists of tomorrow, the young competitors exude an enthusiasm that is every bit as important as their knowledge and use of STEM. Together, you see the promise of leadership for our next-generation workforce and the technology advancements of the future.”

“It’s inspiring and exciting to see the enthusiasm of these students as they compete with rockets they’ve designed and built,” said John Blazey, Vice President, Global Corporate Citizenship at The Boeing Company. “At Boeing, we’re investing in tomorrow’s innovators, giving youth opportunities to think differently about themselves and the world around them. The Team America Rocketry Challenge is an amazing program that encourages our nation’s youth to get excited about STEM careers, do what they dream, and go on to build something better.”

“At Lockheed Martin, we believe that the aerospace industry has a special role to play in helping inspire students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math. And nothing spurs that interest or fires the imagination more than rockets,” said Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin Chairman, President and CEO. “This is a wonderful event that challenges and encourages the next generation of scientists, engineers and inventors – people who will be critical to our nation and our future.”

“Congratulations to the Festus High School Rocketry Club, who had an impressive performance to win this year’s competition,” said Alan Pellegrini, CEO of Thales USA. “At Thales, we love seeing young people engage in the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics – STEM – and TARC is an amazing opportunity to get students interested early. As part of the Mars Generation these students are our industry’s future which is why Thales is proud to sponsor this competition.”

(Image provided with AIA news release)

FMI: rocketcontest.org

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