The University of Tennessee Rocket Top team competed in the annual Argonia Cup Collegiate Rocketry Competition, March 27-28 in Kansas. This was UT’s first time competing in the competition, and they did not disappoint, snagging third place out of seventeen teams from fifteen universities.
“We were blown away by our placement in the competition,” said Tyler Sundstrom, team leader and junior in UT’s Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering (MABE). “For our first year in the Argonia Cup, we could not have asked for a more astounding result. We wanted to make a name for the University of Tennessee out west, and that’s what we did.”
The goal of the competition was to challenge college students to design, build, and fly a rocket to at least 8,000 feet, then deploy a payload upon its descent. The payload then had to fly to a designated area on the launch site. The winner was decided by who landed the closest to the target area.
The UT team’s rocket flew 8,930 feet with the payload landing 3,115 feet away from the target.
Sundstrom and Abigail Digsby, also a junior in MABE and co-leader of the team, started forming the Rocket Top team at the beginning of the fall 2020 semester, and spent weeks recruiting through flyers, virtual outreach events, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Society of Women Engineers student organizations.
The team was made up of sixteen members, ranging from first-year students to juniors, with the majority being from MABE and majoring in mechanical or aerospace engineering.
“After winter break, we began construction,” said Sundstrom. “Overall, it took two-and-a-half months to have everything built, not including the entire first semester we spent designing.”
The team is already looking forward to next year’s Argonia Cup.
“We got our feet wet and now have a good feel for the competition,” said Sundstrom. “We will make sure all the teams know who the Vols are when we step away with that first-place trophy.”