You don’t have to be a rocket scientist… -mrm -dlh

Passey, Emily

Many Lawrentians have no idea what goes on in Youngchild Hall, let alone the machine shop in the basement. Four junior physics majors, however, have been spending a lot of time down there, working together to build a two-stage rocket.
Nathaniel Douglas, Aditya Goil, Duncan Ryan, and Rupesh Silwal met in the physics department; Ryan claims it was “love at first sight.” Silwal and Goil discovered an advertisement for a rocket competition on a poster in their department. The contest sounded cool, and the cash prize really got them interested. After some research, the two decided they had to do it and got Douglas and Ryan on board.
They are participating in a competition sponsored by the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, affiliated with NASA. The contest is open to any accredited four-year undergraduate school in Wisconsin. The winning team takes home $5,000 and a lot of pride. The team had to create and present a proposal ********– which will count for half of their final score *********– to get accepted.
The project is similar to the model rocket kits that some hobbyists use, except that it’s stronger and faster, with more power and altitude involved. The four have been working on engineering the rocket since December, working within size restrictions and with the supplies given them: an engine and an up to $1,000 reimbursement for materials.
Besides letting them into the machine workshop, the Lawrence faculty hasn’t been able to offer the students much help. So the boys have done most of the work on their own, getting together in their free time to build. Their ideas come from online resources and communication with others who have built rockets before. A great machinist, a guy at Hobbytown, and their faculty adviser Professor John Brandenberger have all offered their input.
Although the Lawrence team is in competition with schools that boast specialized rocketry or engineering departments and a lot of skill and experience, they say that for them this contest is about pride. Lawrence has little experience with rocketry and is small and relatively unknown *********– but that last detail could change if the team is successful.
The guys say that the project is lots of fun and gives them hope for getting jobs in the future. As of press time, the rocket is still in pieces and needs to have some design glitches worked out, but even an inexperienced eye can see that it’s taken a lot of work, and even pretty much looks like a rocket!
The launch date of April 30 steadily approaches, to take place in Bong Recreational Park outside of Kenosha. We suggest they take pictures!