After seemingly endless preparation, Cal Poly Pomona’s Rocketry Team got to participate in the 2019 NASA Student Launch Competition in Huntsville, Alabama, on April 6. 

Unfortunately, CPP’s Rocketry Team was not able to bring home any of the awards handed out by NASA. The team competed against 44 other schools from all over the country, such as University of Auburn and UC Berkeley, among others. 

Despite not winning any awards, for senior physics major Marco Arias, just going to the United  Launch Alliance’s (ULA) manufacturing facilities in Huntsville and partaking in the competition with his team was a great experience.

Arias even got a glimpse of what he hopes to do in the future with his career. 

“I think that was my favorite part of going over there, because my background is in manufacturing … so seeing huge enormous machines that make rocket panels and rocket boosters was my favorite part,” Arias said. 

Rocket Launch Team members prepare the rocket before launching. (Courtesy of Marco Arias)

Arias said that the team had no help from any members of last year’s team or anyone with knowledge of how to build a rocket, so that made things extra difficult. 

“We went about the project really raw,” he said. “We didn’t have any help from people from previous years; it was just a handbook that NASA gives us and reading stuff and learning stuff.”

Future students will potentially have more guidance than Arias and his team had, as he said he plans to help future builders.

“That’s something we want to change,” Arias said. “A few members and myself, we want to help the next team once it gets assembled; we plan on giving them hands-on stuff and telling them what to expect once they get to Huntsville.” 

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