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Up in the air Student organization designs rocket for intercollegiate competition

BBQA group of students will test a rocket’s recovery system Friday at the Track & Field grounds on the Edinburg campus. They are part of the UTRGV Rocket Launchers.

The group is made up of about 40 members, 15 of whom are active in building the rocket.

UTRGV Rocket Launchers was founded last summer by mechanical engineering juniors Alexandra Alaniz, who is also the club president, and Justin Osorio, the club’s vice president.  

Alaniz and her colleagues will attend their first Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition held by the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association June 15 in Green River, Utah.

“The basic competition is to reach 10,000 feet,” she said. “It’s our first year, so that’s our goal: 10,000 feet.”

Ricardo Ramirez, Career Center adviser, and Isaac Choutapalli, a mechanical engineering associate professor, serve as faculty advisers for the student organization.

“Ricardo Ramirez gave me the idea for this organization,” Alaniz said. “He told me, ‘Hey, why don’t you start a rocket club?’”

The rocket is about 8 feet tall and 4 inches in diameter.

“We’ve invested about $2,500 in our rocket,” Alaniz said. “We’ve held some fundraisers to compensate for that money.”

Alaniz and Vice President Justin Osorio have used their own money to help build the group’s rocket.

“We didn’t have funding last year because we had just started,” Osorio said. “I would launch model rockets here on campus to attract people and become dedicated members.”

Osorio and the Rocket Launchers will set up their equipment at 9 a.m. Friday and expect to test it at 11 a.m.

“We want to test the parachute deployment mechanism,” Osorio said. “It didn’t successfully deploy the parachute last time. So, we took a different approach and it should work now.”

The ESRA engineering competition will judge the distance the rocket reaches and how close it lands in proximity to its launching site.

2 thoughts on “Up in the air Student organization designs rocket for intercollegiate competition

  1. Carlos Vasquez

    Thanks UTRGVrider for this article. This showcases the abundant talent found in the Rio Grande Valley. I wish the team good luck in this summer’s competition.

  2. Abe

    Thanks for the update.

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