Press Release

Hundreds of students head to Washington for world’s largest rocket contest

By SpaceRef Editor
April 7, 2014
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Arlington, Va. – After months of designing, building and launching home-made model rockets, hundreds of middle and high school students from across the country will advance to the national finals of the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC). Strong qualifying scores backed by countless hours of preparation propelled these students past thousands of their peers, earning their team a chance to compete for the national title. TARC’s top 100 teams will travel to Great Meadow in The Plains, Va., outside of Washington, D.C., to launch against fellow student rocketeers in the final fly-off on May 10.

With 5,000 annual participants, TARC is the world’s largest student rocket contest and a key piece of the aerospace and defense industry’s strategy to build a stronger U.S. workforce in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). In the most difficult challenge of the competition’s 12-year history, teams must design and build a model rocket that can travel to exactly 825 feet and back within 48-50 seconds while carrying precious cargo — two raw eggs that must return safely to the ground undamaged.

Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) and a number of industry partners, TARC has proven successful in bolstering students’ engagement with STEM. A 2010 survey of TARC alumni found that 80 percent of respondents went on to major in STEM-related fields. The contest also aims to foster a strong culture of innovation inside and outside the classroom.

“TARC empowers students to explore the process of innovative research and development,” said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey. “To achieve a successful launch, participants must build a rocket, test its capabilities, refine their design and repeat the process until they achieve their intended result — this is an extremely valuable skillset for American students who are preparing to enter a globally competitive workforce to possess.”

Representing 25 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and a variety of ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds, TARC brings together a diverse cross-section of American youth. This year one additional team has been invited to participate in the national finals in recognition of their efforts to spread the word about TARC and the importance of STEM education to their peers and community.

Participants are competing for $60,000 in scholarships and prizes, as well as bragging rights for earning the national title. Raytheon Company will host the winning team at the Farnborough International Air Show in England this July to launch against student teams from the United Kingdom and France in an international rocketry contest. It is the ninth year Raytheon has supported the U.S. team’s trip to the international air show as part of the company’s broad-based MathMovesU® initiative to encourage students to pursue careers in STEM.

Additional funding and prizes are provided by Lockheed Martin Corporation and Space Exploration Technologies Corporation. Other industry sponsors include: Aerojet, Aurora Flight Sciences, Elbit Systems of America, Embraer Aircraft Holding, Inc., General Electric Company, Harris Corporation, Honeywell Aerospace, Kaman Aerospace Corporation, L-3 Communications Corporation, LMI Aerospace, Inc., Micro-Coax, Inc., Northrop Grumman Corporation, Parker Aerospace, Rockwell Collins, Rolls-Royce North America, Inc., and RTI International Metals, Inc. 

For more information about TARC 2014, please visit

SpaceRef staff editor.