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University High rocketry team triumphant in transonic way

After 10 years of hard work and a lot of trial and effort, the University High rocketry program has made history in a supersonic way.

The program, which began in 2008 as part of the school’s Academy of Engineering, participates in SystemsGo rocketry and aeroscience curriculum that uses project-based learning to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) while developing skills in teamwork, problem-solving and leadership.

In the sequenced curriculum led by teacher Dennis Oubre, students gradually learn the principles of engineering, design, drafting, problem-solving and research so they are prepared for the challenge of designing and building fully-functioning and flight-ready 6- to 8-foot rockets without any assistance from a teacher or sponsor.

Each school year culminates with an annual rocket launch competition near the SystemsGo headquarters in Fredericksburg, Texas. This past year, 40 student-made rockets from 58 schools across Texas were launched in a large field in the Texas Hill Country. University High had 52 students participate in the program with six rocket teams in the competition.

Juniors and first-year team members have their eye on the Tsiolskovsky Level, a success criteria for flight performance that requires the rocket to carry a 1-pound research package to an altitude of 5,280-feet, or 1-mile.

Seniors and second-year team members are aiming for the Oberth Level, a more challenging criteria that requires the rocket to achieve transonic velocity while staying under a 13,000-foot ceiling. The rocket must also reach an apogee of at least 11,000-feet.

In order to meet either criterion successfully, a rocket must also be recovered after it has landed.

As a result of the competition, only five schools had rockets that achieved the Oberth level and two of those rockets belonged to University High School. Since this was the first time for the Trojans to reach the Oberth level, the accomplishment was a record-setting year as well as a statewide success.

SystemsGo Executive Director Scott Netherland and program director Rebekah Hyatt recently visited University High School to present the rocketry team members with two large banners that will hang in the school hallways as a reminder of their accomplishments.

The University High rocketry team

University High School students who competed in the 2018 SystemsGo competition and made history with their rockets are (left to right): Rolando Galvan (senior), Joshua Langford (2018 graduate), Dennis Oubre (University High School Academy of Engineering Rocketry Instructor), Austin Chapa (2018 graduate), Jonathon Juarez (2018 graduate), Edgar Rodriguez (senior) and Eric Reese (2018 graduate).

Two teams were recognized by SystemsGo for earning the Oberth Level Platinum Award

The University High rocketry class surrounds the two teams being recognized by SystemsGo for earning the Oberth Level Platinum Award. Students holding their history-making transonic rockets are (from left to right): Eric Reese (2018 graduate), Austin Chapa (2018 graduate), Jonathon Juarez (2018 graduate), Edgar Rodriguez (senior), Rolando Galvan (senior), and Joshua Langford (2018 graduate). Pictured center are (left to right): SystemsGo Program Director Rebekah Hyatt, University High School Academy of Engineering Rocketry Instructor Dennis Oubre, and SystemsGo Executive Director Scott Netherland.

Waco ISD Photos, Mary Senter

Mary Senter