Press Release

United Launch Alliance Announces Winners for 3-2-1 Liftoff! ULA Rocket Hardware Challenge” Additive Manufacturing Competition

By SpaceRef Editor
December 15, 2016
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Today, United Launch Alliance (ULA) named winners for its additive manufacturing GrabCAD design challenge, called 3-2-1 Liftoff! ULA Rocket Hardware Challenge. The challenge asked participants to design a launch support attachment bracket for ULA’s current Atlas V rocket. GrabCAD, a division of Stratasys, hosted the challenge. GrabCAD is a digital manufacturing hub helping designers and engineers build great products faster.

“We could not have been more pleased with the nearly 400 innovative entries we received,” said Mark Peller, ULA’s vice president of Engineering. “What could be more exciting than designing hardware that will fly on a future Atlas V rocket? In fact, the quality of the entries was so tremendous we’ve increased the first place award to $10,000.”

A panel of judges, including ULA CEO and President Tory Bruno as well as additional engineers and experts from ULA and Stratasys, judged the entries.

The winners are as follows:

First Place: Nic Adams $10,000
Second Place: Vishale Gandhele $3,000
Third Place: Winston Jennings $2,000
Honorable Mention: Stanislav Petrek
Honorable Mention: Cameron Navarre

In addition to the financial award, Nic Adams’ support bracket will fly on a future Atlas V mission.
“It is truly an exciting time, and we are on the cusp of a space revolution,” said Bruno. “New technologies and missions we haven’t even imagined are on the horizon, and ULA is transforming the future of launch.”

Interpretation of the design space ULA provided proved to be a differentiator when reviewing the entries. The most common discriminators between submissions were edge distance, part stress, and support material.

To select the winners, ULA completed a detailed analysis on the finalist entries using ULA’s own methods and tools.

“We were very impressed with the quality of work displayed, and honored to be able to judge the submissions,” said Peller. “ULA is committed to reaching the next generation of scientist and engineers, and opportunities such as this challenge are a great way to build the enthusiasm in the innovative work taking place in aerospace. This is an incredible time to be a part of the space industry!”

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 100 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321). Join the conversation at, and

SpaceRef staff editor.