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Largest Student Rocket Contest Brings Diversity and Talent to U.S. STEM Pipeline

By Marc Boucher
Press Release
April 14, 2012
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Largest Student Rocket Contest Brings Diversity and Talent to U.S. STEM Pipeline

With the exception of a shared passion for science, math and engineering, the 100 teams that will compete in the tenth anniversary Team America Rocketry Challenge national finals this year show a stunning diversity of backgrounds and interests.
The Aerospace Industries Association today unveiled this year’s roster of rocket-building finalists, which includes more than 600 students from 29 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Representing a wide cross-section of American youth, TARC teams – including an all-girl team, 4-H club, a rock band and a hockey team – bring varying perspectives and experiences to the annual competition, which is known for sparking careers in science, math and engineering.

“We are proud that TARC has been encouraging students to become successful engineers in our workforce for ten years,” said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey. “Our companies can’t wait to see the great accomplishments of this year’s diverse and inspiring teams.”

Besting more than 500 other middle and high school teams, the top 100 will compete in an all-day final flyoff at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va., on Saturday, May 12.

More than 50,000 students have entered the competition since TARC’s inception. In a 2010 survey of TARC alumni, 92 percent of participants said they would encourage a friend to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Four out of five respondents said TARC has had a positive impact on their course of study.

“TARC proves that economic and language disadvantages are not barriers to success – through this contest students develop and strengthen their skills, preparing to compete in the global marketplace,” said Shella Condino, a nationally recognized physics teacher from Presidio High School in Presidio, Texas. Condino’s TARC teams were acknowledged by President Barack Obama during this year’s White House Science Fair.

Winnings include up to $60,000 in scholarships and prizes and an opportunity to participate in NASA’s Student Launch Initiative. Raytheon Company provides funding for the winning team to defend America’s 2011 championship title at the international fly-off at the Farnborough International Air Show in July against teams from the UK and France.

Daniel N. Stohr
Director, Media Relations
Aerospace Industries Association
1000 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1700
Arlington, Virginia 22209 USA
T: 703-358-1078 C: 703-517-8173

SpaceRef co-founder, entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, nature lover and deep thinker.