The UNC Pembroke Rocket Team has been selected to compete in the NASA Student Launch Challenge hosted at Alabama's Marshall Space Flight Center in April.
The team, led by captains Caleb Locklear and Hector Felix, features 25 members. The team has been competing in the First Nations Launch national rocket competition since 2018.
“Last year, we began with three team members and ended with eight, but I guess winning prize money and awards changed that,” shared physics professor and team advisor Dr. Steven Singletary in a press release. “This year, we have 25 participants, with more students asking daily if they can participate.”
UNCP has a full NASA team, an FNL team, a social media team, a safety team, and a STEAM outreach team. They will also compete next year at the First Nations Launch competition in Wisconsin.
Students are currently working on the design and construction phase of a high-powered rocket capable of flying to an altitude between 4,000 and 6,000 feet.
Competition experiences have led to collaborations and networking with NASA engineers and major aerospace corporations such as Blue Origin and Lockheed Martin.
“They get to see someone who has gone through the process they are going through and what the end state can look like," Singletary said in a press release. “It makes them want to work harder in their classes to be like the people they have met. I'm excited about both teams, as I think they will perform well. This is big because it proves that UNCP students can compete with the big boys.”
Locklear, who is enrolled in UNCP's 3+2 dual engineering degree program, said the competitions provide a way to connect with a variety of engineers within the field of aerospace.
“It allows students to be set in a professional, career-related environment on campus to complete our objectives. Although I didn't have aerospace engineering in mind, participating in these competitions has helped me understand what engineers must do concerning designing, building and writing reports,” Locklear said in a press release.
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