Press Release

American Rocketeers Runners Up in Paris

By SpaceRef Editor
June 21, 2019
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On June 20th and 21st , students from Madison West High School (located in Madison, Wisconsin) competed against the best student rocketeers in the world at the International Rocketry Challenge (IRC) and placed second in the closest competition in IRC history. After placing first in the Team America Rocketry Challenge finals on May 18th in Virginia, the Madison West team represented the United States against teams from the United Kingdom, France, and Japan at the Paris International Air Show. 


This annual competition brings together middle and high school students to design, build, and launch model rockets with the goal of inspiring them to become engaged in STEM education and aerospace careers. The Madison West team includes Mazelie Passmore (14), Ella Paulin (15), Ethan Lan (15), Rohan Yethiraj (15), Jacob Mello (15), Lukas Weinhold (14), Alex Goff (15), and Nathan Wagner (15). 


The team from the United Kingdom came in first in the competition. And, for the first time ever, two teams tied for third: Japan and France. 


“I’m so proud of what our team accomplished today, at nationals and throughout the entire year. Winning would’ve been nice, but the British team accomplished something incredible today. The French team and Japanese teams also performed extremely well, and it was great competing against them,” said team captain Jacob Mello. “This was a great time – anyone who is interested in engineering should try out the Rocketry Challenge. You’re going to meet a lot of fun people along the way – especially people from other countries. We’re still a young team, and look forward to coming back in Farnborough 2020.”


In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, this year’s IRC rules require a rocket carrying three raw eggs, representing the Apollo astronauts, to reach 856 feet before returning the uncracked eggs to Earth – all within 43 to 46 seconds. Teams were also tasked with delivering a presentation explaining their rocket design to a distinguished panel of international aerospace experts, which accounted for 40 percent of their total score.


“All of the students on the tarmac today spent months working as a team to accomplish a complicated technical feat, and I could not be more impressed by their dedication and ingenuity,” said AIA President and CEO Eric Fanning. “This contest is one of the most important things AIA does and we look forward to continuing to show bright American students the cutting-edge work our industry is doing every day. We know these kids will be part of creating things we can’t even imagine today.


This is the 14th year the Raytheon Company has proudly sponsored Team USA, enabling them to attend an international air show. Raytheon’s support is tied closely to the company’s MathMovesU® initiative that aims to encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). 


“Congratulations to all the students from around the world who took part in this truly uplifting competition,” said Thomas A. Kennedy, Raytheon Chairman and CEO. “My hope is that this experience taught them the importance of teamwork, ingenuity and problem-solving. Those skills were key to the successful Apollo 11 mission 50 years ago, and they will serve our next generation of scientists and engineers well as they unlock the amazing breakthroughs of tomorrow.”


The International Rocketry Challenge is the culmination of four separate competitions held annually around the globe: the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the National Association of Rocketry (NAR); the United Kingdom Aerospace Youth Rocketry Challenge (UKAYRoC) sponsored by ADS, the UK Aerospace, Defense, Security and Space association; the French Rocketry Challenge sponsored by Groupement des Industries Francaises Aeronautiques et Spatiales (GIFAS), the French aerospace industries association, and Planete Sciences; and the Japanese Rocketry Challenge, sponsored by the Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies (SJAC) and the Japan Association of Rocketry.

SpaceRef staff editor.