Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

School News

March 26, 2012

SMHS Rocket Club Team members working to make TARC Finals again this year

CROSSVILLE — The Stone Memorial High School (SMHS) Rocket Club is once again working to qualify for the finals of the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC), the world’s largest student rocket competition.

This year’s challenge for the participating teams is to send two raw eggs 800 feet into the air and bring them down safely in about 45 seconds. In addition to having to lift a two egg payload, this year the rocket has a stringent weight limit making design of a light but strong rocket critical to the success of the flight.

The first test flights by the SMHS team have been very promising, according to club sponsor and SHMS engineering teacher Tommy Tatum. He said the students are working to refine the rocket and make additional test flights by the qualifying deadline. The SMHS team’s rocket must complete its qualifying flights by April 2 to be eligible for the finals.

The local SMHS team is in competition with some 700 teams of middle and high school students from across 48 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. TARC is described by its sponsors as a critical piece of the aerospace industry’s workforce development pipeline. This is the contest’s 10th year and just the top scoring 100 teams will advance to the National Finals May 12 at Great Meadow in The Plains, VA, just outside Washington, DC.

Last year, four members of the SMHS Rocket Club traveled to the finals and the team members, along with several new members, are hoping to make the finals again this year. The SMHS team was the only group from the state of Tennessee to make the finals last year.

Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association, the National Association of Rocketry and more than 30 industry partners, the contest aims to inspire middle and high school students to pursue careers in science, math and engineering.

Teams are competing for up to $60,000 in scholarships and prizes, as well as an opportunity to participate in NASA’s Student Launch Initiative. Raytheon Company provides funding for the winning team to defend America’s 2011 championship title at the international fly-off at the Farnborough International Air Show in July against teams from the UK and France

“We’re thrilled to see the competition evolve from a one-time celebration of flight to a true workforce development program,” said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey. “We know the quality and value that TARC alumni bring to our industry and the competition serves as a model for other sectors.”

With teams hailing from Hoonah, Alaska, to Pensacola, Fla., the contest includes all-girls teams, a team with members who will be the first in their family to graduate from high school and a team from Joplin, Mo., whose community was ravaged by a tornado last May.

In a 2010 TARC alumni survey, approximately 80 percent of respondents said TARC had a positive impact on their course of study. Four out of five respondents reported that they plan to pursue a college major in an area related to science, math or engineering.

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