UNC Pembroke’s rocket team took home hard-earned hardware at NASA’s 14th annual First Nations Launch High-Power Rocket Competition in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
UNCP won the Public Outreach Award and third place for their written reports. The team — comprised mostly of physics students — also brought home one of the top prizes — the Next Step Award, signifying the team is prepared for the next level of rocketry.
The Next Step Award comes with a $15,000 grant and an invitation to the 2024 NASA University Student Launch Initiative (USLI) competition near the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Additionally, the outreach award came with a $500 prize.
The UNCP’s rocket team also competed alongside 800 students from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico at the USLI event in Huntsville in April.
NASA’s Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium First Nations Launch allows students attending tribal colleges, universities, Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions and American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) collegiate chapters to design, build and fly a high-powered rocket.
“Both teams did outstanding this year!” said Dr. Steven Singletary, physics professor and team advisor. “The NASA team — with only four members — was one of the smallest teams in the competition. The team shuffled between four team captains throughout the year due to manpower and scheduling issues but successfully completed the challenge. We are looking forward to going back!”
Team members are Billy Ray Pait, Sydney Allen, Jose “Ed” Hernandez, Xander Amores, Caleb Locklear, Sam Kauer, Seth Lowery, Riley Edwards and Joseph Cimadamore. Pait and Locklear serve as team captains.
“The students had the opportunity to interact with NASA and industry engineers and made a lot of contacts,” Singletary said. “A few have leads on potential internships and maybe jobs down the road in the aerospace industry.”
UNCP participated in another launch last weekend in South Carolina, where four team members achieved the High-Power Rocketry (HPR) Level 1 certification through the Tripoli Rocketry Association.