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USU students win NASA rocket competition

Published June 21, 2012 10:52 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Engineering students from Utah State University won their fourth national NASA rocket competition in five years after launching their homemade spacecraft nearly a mile into the air.

The USU Chimera Rocket team took the top prize out of 500 students from 41 colleges and universities in April at the NASA University Student Launch Initiative in Alabama. Competition judges choose the overall winners based on design and flight results.

USU's rocket, nicknamed "the Sturgeon," won best overall vehicle design by the NASA peer review panel. The rocket weighed nearly 30 pounds and measured 8 feet, coming within 2 percent of the target mile-high altitude. Stephen Witmore, USU professor of engineering and faculty adviser, said working through the rocket competition will prepare them for their future careers in ways that can't be learned through a traditional classroom experience.

"Upon graduating from Utah State, students who have participated on the Chimera team will enter the workforce having designed, manufactured, tested and flown a complex rocket," Witmore said. "Their experience is one that relatively few college graduates can point to and will serve them well as they start their careers."