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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 21, 2017

MSAE rocketry team in national contest

By Nicole Major, Ledger staff writer | Apr 26, 2017
Photo by: submitted MSAE's 2017 Rocketry Team will compete in a national competition in May.From left, Fuweiyu (Wayne) Li, Kaarthik Vempati, Miles Falk and Bridgit Bianco.

In just a few weeks, students on the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment’s rocketry team will be on their way to compete against other high school students from across the nation, during this year’s Team America Rocketry Contest in Virginia May 13.

Each year, around 800 teams participate in TARC. Of those 800, only 101 teams are selected to compete in the finals. This year, MSAE’s team garnered a top 100 spot.

“I think what this team has accomplished so far is phenomenal,” said MSAE rocketry team advisor Rick Rudloff. “Our qualifying score of 16.2 was way ahead of most teams in the top 100. The cut off this year was around 31.4, so I would be surprised if they weren’t in the top 10 or 20 of the teams that qualified.”

Rudloff said that last year, of the 789 teams that competed, MSAE came close to making the cut.

“Last year our placement was 112, and 101 teams got to go to the finals; we were 11th on the alternate list,” Rudloff said. “We didn’t get to actually go and watch the finals. Ten other teams were in front of us, and nobody listed themselves as dropping out. It’s very rare that an alternate team would have been listed in the competition.”

According Rudloff’s estimation, this year’s rocketry team, which includes MSAE junior Fuweiyu (Wayne) Li, junior Kaarthik Vempati, sophomore Miles Falk, and junior Bridgit Bianco, are “serious” contenders for a win.

“I looked at the [TARC] scores over six years, that’s 600 scores, and only five were 16 and below,” he said, adding that on March 18, the students launched their rocket landing a perfect score.

“This is a project where you want to get a zero,” Rudloff said. “We’ve had a zero score at least once — our challenge is to repeat that.”

Rudloff said Li and Vempati have been working on a separate project during the second and third quarter of the school year. The airbrake system project is aimed at making their rocket launches even more spot-on next year.

Part of this contest is to achieve an exact altitude because you are penalized if you are over or under it,” he said, adding that in theory, the airbrake system would assist in launching accuracy.

“They know the pieces that they need to come together to make it happen,” he said. “But it will take them time to build the protype and test it to see if their idea will work.”

Rudloff said the idea should come to fruition by next year’s contest.

As for this year’s contest, 101 teams will have their first launch, and only 42 of those teams will be permitted to launch again.

“The second flight has a target altitude of 800 feet and a duration window of 42 to 44 seconds,” Rudloff said. “This rocket is not just altitude and duration, it carries a large raw egg, and the key part of it is to launch that egg [cargo] completely protected, so that it goes up and down without any damage at all.”

Rudloff is more than hopeful, he believes in his team.

“They have the potential to win this thing,” he said, adding the team has raised $1,300 of a $3,000 fundraising goal to get to the contest. “We could not have raised this amount so far without the help of the Swanson family, my family, Everybody’s Whole Foods, and so many generous individual supporters.”

For more information or to contribute, go to: https://www.gofundme.com/msae-tarc-rocketry-finals-trip or contact Rudloff at 319-217-8954.



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