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ISU students win statewide rocket competition

ISU students work on building their model rocket.
Emily Bollinger
/
WGLT
Illinois State University students work on building their model rocket.

UPDATED 11:15 a.m. | The Redbird Rockets took first place in the competition.

A squad of five Illinois State University students (and a pair of advisors) is nearly ready to land a model rocket in a competition featuring numerous colleges across Illinois.

The competition, funded by a grant from the US Department of Defense, is meant to help launch interest in aerospace engineering and the space industry among participating students. And it’s doing its job.

Team member Jabari Washington has taken more of a liking to the subject, according to team advisor Will Lewis.

“Now that he’s a member of this team, and he’s been helping the team put together the rocket, reading about the technology, understanding all of the parameters that need to be controlled and considered in order to operate the rocket, he has developed a keener interest in space travel technology,” said Lewis.

The rocket being built by ISU’s team is a VLR, or vertically landing rocket. The goal is to drop the model rocket from a drone anywhere between 20 and 30 meters high and have it land upright on the ground. Parts for the rocket are provided by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, one of the two schools collaborating to host the event. The other is Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Illinois State University's model rocket team, from left to right: Tegan Bernard, Lo Norsworthy, Jabari Washington (pictured on the phone), Brett Allen, Daniel Freburg, Will Lewis (advisor)
Emily Bollinger
/
WGLT
Illinois State University's model rocket team, from left to right: Tegan Bernard, Lo Norsworthy, Jabari Washington (pictured on the phone), Brett Allen, Daniel Freburg, Will Lewis (advisor)

When it comes time to land the rocket on Sunday, Nov. 12 at the Rantoul airport, it will be judged in three categories:

  1. Landing accuracy (determined by a bullseye on the ground)
  2. Landing the rocket upright
  3. Visual design of the rocket (logos, emblems, etc.)

ISU’s team wants to win. But regardless of the outcome, graduate student team member Daniel Freburg sees participating in the competition as a success.
“With ISU just starting their school of engineering coming up in a couple years, us as an IT department working with the University of Illinois on this project might lead to other projects being available to ISU later that could provide opportunities for engineers here,” said Freburg.

“It’s a really good first step for Illinois State University to be involved with the University of Illinois on a project like this. We’re excited to be involved.”

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Updated: November 14, 2022 at 11:15 AM CST
The Redbird Rockets took first place in the competition.
Jack Podlesnik is a student reporter and announcer at WGLT. He joined the station in 2021.
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