UNT students aiming high for NASA rocket competition

Members of UNT Team Rocket and their mentor (left to right): Joel Thompson, George Sprague, Karen Lyndsey Smith and Luis Gonzalez.
Monday, December 19, 2016 - 17:00

DENTON (UNT), Texas - For the first time ever, The University of North Texas has a team in NASA’s Student Launch rocket competition.

UNT Team Rocket, made up of five College of Engineering students – seniors Karen Lyndsey Smith, Jessica Hampton, Joel Thompson and Luis Gonzalez and freshman Mitchell Buehler – will be spending their Christmas break building a high-powered rocket. They started working on their proposal in July. Then they found out in October that they were one of only 42 university teams in the United States to be accepted into this highly competitive challenge.

“This means so much to me,” said Hampton. “I’ve watched all the NASA rocket launches, and someday I would love to get into the field with Space X or NASA. This is my dream, and this competition is giving me the chance live it out.” 

Since being accepted into the program, the five students involved have been busy designing their rocket and are now ready to begin building their first prototype. The students must be able to prove their subscale model is capable of launching by mid-January. Once that works, they will start construction of their full-size rocket, which will be nearly 6 feet tall. The students say it is a challenge like nothing they’ve ever done before, and the senior project for most of the team members.

“I didn’t want to just do something normal,” said Smith.  I wanted to go big or go home. Job wise for sure, companies are going to look at us and know we are prepared because we’re working with rocket science. There is so much to learn, but we’ve got the fundamentals and now we get to put it into action.”

The NASA Student Launch competition will take place from April 5-9 in Huntsville, Alabama.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108