UWindsor’s first rocket team since 2019 placed fourth in the 30,000-foot category at the Spaceport America Cup student contest in New Mexico.
The team of fourth-year engineering majors Anthony Degirolamo, Matthew Veselinovi, Christopher Francis, Nina Mussio, Hunter Batten, Jesse Davidson, Emiliji Radevski, Connor Matton, and Jesse Potma under the direction of professor Aleksandr Cherniaev, worked on the experimental sounding rocket for the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition.
Veselinovis called it one of the most enjoyable experiences of his university career: “It was exciting as it was the only capstone project with a competition.”
COVID restrictions limited the time the students could work on construction.
“It was a real transition to go from online classes and exams to in-person classes, exams, and projects,” Francis said. “Without the support and experience from the technicians we would not have gotten as far as we did.”
The launch competition posed its own challenges — the first day was rained out and the second day, parachutes malfunctioned and deployed while the rocket was still on the ground.
The team regrouped and made adjustments for the final launch attempt, resulting in a success that placed fourth in its category, 16th overall in a field of 99, and second among the 12 Canadian entries.
“It was a really cool event because you got to meet and talk about your projects with schools across the world,” said Degirolamo. “Some of the teams from other schools were made of up of hundreds of members and their rockets were years in the making.”
Several factors led to UWindsor’s improved standing, Davidson said.
“The nose redesign led to better aerodynamics. We also narrowed the actual rocket to 12.5 cm from 15 cm,” he said. “Our nose cone design allowed us to have no damage to our rocket and that was not the case for the previous year.”