University rocket team competes at NASA launchThe Harding University Flying Bison Rocket Team completed eight months
of intense designing, building and testing its competition rocket at
the 2011 NASA launch at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville,
Ala., April 17.
The team successfully launched its rocket, competing against 29 other
universities from across the nation including Penn State University,
Purdue University and University of Florida, to name a few.
Team members include Daniel Denman, a senior management information
systems major from Mesa, Ariz.; Tim Tostige, a senior economics major
from Fraser, Mich.; Emilia Faraj, a senior electrical engineering
major from Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Grant Arthur, a senior mathematics
and electrical engineering double major from Springfield, Mo.; Morgan
Evans, a senior biology major from Paragould, Ark.; Taylor Gammon, a
senior mechanical engineering major from Hoover, Ala.; Elizabeth
Phillips, a junior computer science major from Bentonville, Ark.;
Matthew Irvine, a senior mechanical engineering major from Richmond,
Va.; and Patrick McKenzie, a Searcy High School sophomore and the only
high school member of the team.
“I am so proud of our team,” said Dr. Ed Wilson, professor of
chemistry at Harding, who has been taking teams to the competition for
all five years of the program.
The students had to carry out the project just like a NASA engineer.
They wrote extensive reports including a proposal, preliminary design,
critical design, flight readiness, and a final report.
“These were big reports,” said Wilson “Deadlines had to be met and,
after each report was submitted, the students presented their reports
via teleconferences to NASA rocket engineers who made suggestions and
constructive criticisms for improving the design and construction.”
Each rocket had to have a science payload, and the team chose one
suggested by the NASA Science Mission Directorate. The group had to
design an instrument to measure the irradiance of the sun in both the
ultraviolet and visible regions of the spectrum as well as including
sensors to measure pressure, temperature and humidity. In addition,
the payload had to have a camera that took pictures during the
rocket’s descent and while on the ground after landing.
Some of the universities participating use this contest as their
senior design project and others use this as a systems engineering
class whereas the Harding team was composed of all volunteer members
from a diverse field of majors. The group spent a lot of time and hard
work with no credit towards graduation in addition to being good
students in the classroom.
“This was a real sacrifice but they all felt it worthwhile and useful
as they enter graduate school or the job market,” said Wilson. “We all
came home with sunburned smiling faces and feeling good about working
together to have a successful launch. The only thing left is to write
that final report.”
Although the Harding team won’t be winning one of the top awards this
year, Wilson says he is proud of the students and couldn’t be happier
with their talent and ambition. The winning teams this year were from
Vanderbilt University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Utah