A team of Windsor Engineering students is having a blast as it prepares for the University’s first-ever entry in an international rocketry competition.
“It’s loud, it involves explosions — it’s rocket science!” says Liza DiCecco. “What’s not to love?”
The fourth-year materials option mechanical engineering student is one of nine senior students completing a 2.4-metre rocket as their capstone project. In June, they will travel to the New Mexico desert to test their skills alongside more than 100 teams from a dozen countries in the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition.
Their entry will be up against 50 other teams in the same category, carrying a payload of four kilograms to an altitude of 10,000 feet (more than three kilometres).
Team captain Patrick Pomerleau-Perron recalls launching rockets with his father, fostering a passion that led him to the aerospace option in mechanical engineering.
“The thrill that you feel when you see your rocket go up is indescribable,” he says. “Now for the first time in my life, I am getting to apply my knowledge of engineering to my love of rockets.”
The team’s entry will be judged on its design as well as its performance and the ability of the students to explain and justify their decision-making. While the rocket will carry instrumentation to record the flight altitude, velocity, acceleration and more, Pomerleau-Perron says the team has opted not to add too many extra elements.
“We’re keeping it simple this year,” he says. “It’s our first competition and we’re hoping that future teams will build and expand on what we’ve done.”
The team has established a club to engage students in other disciplines and earlier in their university careers: “We have been laying down the foundation,” DiCecco says.
Shannon Bosilac is the team member responsible for promotions and sponsorship. She says the team wants to represent the University and the community well — and has even named its rocket the Ambassador.
“We will be showing our Lancer pride,” she says. “We’ll be wearing the Windsor name and colours.”
That pride goes both ways, and the students have been selling supporters embroidered patches bearing a full-colour representation of a rocket in the sky over the campus.
Fundraising is important, as team members must cover their travel and accommodation expenses, as well as the costs of back-up components for their rocket.
“It takes a lot of support to get something like this off the ground,” Bosilac puns.
She notes that the rocket has space for decals and ads to thank sponsors, and invites anyone interested to contact her. Learn more on the UWindsor Rocketry Facebook page.