Alabama Local 44 Member Mentors Rocket Team to Victory

Team America from Russellville, AL (Photo by Russellville City Schools Rockets and Robots)

Seven students from Russellville, AL, with the help of IAM Local 44 member Preston Burns, won world final competition of the Rocketry Challenge at the Paris Air Show. Burns served as their technical mentor and traveled with the team throughout all of their competitions.

The students won the right to represent the United States after they beat out more than 700 teams from across the country to claim first place at the National Finals of the 2015 Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC).  In Paris, they competed against the best teams from the United Kingdom and France.

The annual competition is structured to emulate the aerospace industry’s engineering design, fabrication and testing processes. Competitors, age 12 through 18, have to design, build and launch model rockets. Each team is judged on the quality of their rockets, launch, altitude, time, descent and the condition of the raw egg astronaut it must safely carry. Scores are determined by how close the rockets come to the required height and time.

The winning team, from the Russellville City Schools Rockets and Robots Club, consisted of Cristian Ruiz, 16; Niles Butts, 17; Andrew Heath, 17; Katie Burns, 13; Evan Swinney, 18; Cady Studdard, 14; and Chelsea Suddith, 15.

“It was a great experience representing the United States and winning the international rocketry competition,” said Andrew Heath team captain. “It has been an honor to be part of my team and this year’s program.”