PARIS -- Seven students from the Russellville City Schools of Russellville, Ala., won first place in the International Rocketry Challenge at the 2015 Paris Air Show on June 19. The U.S. team, sponsored by Raytheon (NYSE: RTN), beat teams from the United Kingdom, who came in second place, and France, who took home third.
"It was a great experience representing the United States and winning the international rocketry competition," said Andrew Heath, captain of the RCS Engineers. "It has been an honor to be part of the team and this year's program."
Competing teams designed, built and launched rockets with a goal of reaching an altitude of exactly 800 feet within a 46- to 48-second flight window. This year's contest required rockets to separate into at least two sections during flight. The main section, containing a payload of one raw hen's egg and an altimeter, had to return to the ground safely with a single parachute as its sole recovery device. Scores were determined by how close the rockets approached the required height and time; cracked eggs would disqualify the flight.
The U.S. team consists of Cristian Ruiz, 16; Niles Butts, 17; Andrew Heath, 17; Katie Burns, 13; Evan Swinney, 18; Cady Studdard, 14; and Chelsea Suddith, 15. The team achieved a winning flight score of 49.53 and logged an altitude of 824 feet.
The students also gave a presentation on their rocket design to a panel of international judges at Raytheon's air show headquarters. The judges' score counted for 40 percent of their total competition score. The U.S. took first place in this portion of the challenge as well.
"This was a wonderful competition, and after seeing our U.S. representatives and the teams from France and the U.K., I am truly impressed by the young talent that is here today," said AIA President and CEO Dave Melcher. "As they leave here with vivid memories of how exciting it was to compete at this level, I urge our outstanding rocket teams to use this experience as a springboard for their futures."
The International Rocketry Challenge is the culmination of three 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; and the French Rocketry Challenge sponsored by Groupement des Industries Francaises Aeronautiques et Spatiales (GIFAS), the French aerospace industries association. Each contest brings together teams of middle and high school students to design, build and launch model rockets with the goal of inspiring young minds to become engaged in science, technology, engineering and math.
"Rocketry requires a strong command of math, a solid foundation of physics and a tremendous amount of patience and determination," said Raytheon Chairman and CEO Thomas A. Kennedy. "The achievement of these competitors deserves a global stage, and we hope to show other students around the world that hard work and a love for science can lead them to great things."
This is the tenth year that Raytheon has supported the U.S. team's trip to the international air show. The program is part of the company's broad-based MathMovesU® initiative to encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).