Three engineering students from the University of Tennessee at Martin placed fourth in their category and 12th overall in the third-annual Spaceport America Cup, held June 18-22 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. This annual competition is the only international collegiate rocket engineering competition in the world.
Cy Pemberton, of Milan; Nathan Williamson, of Martin; and Enrico Zoboli, originally from Italy, composed this year’s team and competed in the 10k SRAD solid motor category. This means their rocket had to reach or exceed 10,000 feet above ground level, and the propulsion system had to be entirely student researched, designed and fabricated as opposed to purchasing a pre-made propulsion system.
The UT Martin rocket, known as the “Skyhawk Screamer,” reached 10,650 feet and achieved a maximum velocity of 850 feet per second. The team also designed the rocket to carry a minimum 8.8-pound payload, use redundant electronic deployment systems for parachutes and allow GPS tracking of the rocket and all free-falling payloads.
“The biggest benefit to me as a student was how this project (like many other senior projects) manages to tie together all of the various classes taught in undergrad engineering,” said Pemberton, who acted as team captain during the competition. “The process as a whole taught me a lot about the project management side of engineering and how to better work with peers to achieve goals and deadlines. I also learned the importance of considering small details as early as possible in the engineering process since these can cost more time downstream. …
“UTM’s engineering program is unique in its size and ability to promote hands-on and face-to-face experience for all of its students during their time in the program. I certainly believe that these developed faculty-student relationships are a large part of how UTM prepares students for dealing with these challenges up to and through their completion,” he added.
Pemberton and Williamson both graduated from UT Martin with bachelor’s degrees in engineering in spring 2019, and Zoboli is now a junior engineering student.
The Spaceport America Cup is sponsored by the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association and the Spaceport America Crew, as well as such international companies as Virgin Galactic, Jet Blue, Boeing and others.
UT Martin offers a major in engineering with six concentration areas – civil, electrical, industrial, manufacturing, mechatronics and mechanical engineering – in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. For more information, visit utm.edu/engineering or call 731-881-7571 to speak with a faculty adviser.