Rocket team soars to first place

Over the summer,  the Undergraduate Missiles, Ballistics, and Rocketry Association (UMBRA) took first place in the Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) 1030 Rocketry Competition. 

The team of around 25 students competed against more than 10 other schools from across the country. The competition took place in the Mojave Desert on Jun. 24. 

The UMBRA rocket soared an impressive 24,000 feet in the air, setting a Cal Poly Pomona record, and landed safely. 

The University of Central Florida came in second place with its rocket reaching 21,350 feet. 

The 14-foot rocket had most of its structural components manufactured on campus and at the makerspace located at Mt. San Antonio College, which was also used to create the rocket.  

According to a press release on, “The 14-foot-tall Bronco rocket, with student-designed and manufactured motors, weighed close to 130 pounds at liftoff and carried a small rover. It was constructed mostly out of convolute-wound carbon fiber, with the motor casing and fin assembly almost exclusively made out of aluminum.” 

The 14-foot rocket reached an impressive height of 24,000 feet, winning the team the first-place prize.
(Courtesy of Dimitrious Jarvis)

Teamwork is necessary when it comes to building a rocket; because of this UMBRA often divides each major section of the rocket and the project manager appoints a lead for that section. 

The different teams include the systems lead, structure lead, propulsion, avionics and payload lead. Within these teams, members are divided based on skillset or desire and placed into one of the team categories. 

There were a few major challenges that the UMBRA team had to overcome before making it to the competition. They had to fix parts such as the fin can, rocket motor and nose cone, which are important structural components for the rocket.

As Dimitrious Jarvis, fourth-year aerospace engineer and president of UMBRA said, “Like a salvaged car, we went to the boneyard and got pieces of all kinds of rockets.” 

The challenge after that was getting all the components to fit together, but the team made it work. 

UMBRA is working on at least two projects this academic year: the FAR 1030 competition again and the NASA University Student Launch Initiative. 

The team and its different projects are funded by a variety of sponsors like the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), the aerospace department, and the team’s own design, build and flight fund. 

The team has access to resources such as an Airwolf 3D printer that was paid for by the aerospace department. They use this printer to make parts that can be very hard to get a hold of, and the printer plastic is strong enough to design and manufacture their own parts.

UMBRA also promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through its outreach program. 

Over the summer, the team held Aerospace Day where they helped middle school students learn about general aerospace concepts by building bottle rockets with them. 

While dominated by engineering students, the club is open to any major and is open to teaching those who know nothing about aerospace and want to learn. 

UMBRA meets during U-hour every Thursday in the Bronco Bookstore, Building 66, room 202.

“Well, it’s hands-on experience for designing and manufacturing of most of the components,” said Jessie Portillo, a fifth-year aerospace engineer student and UMBRA member. “Usually if you don’t know a skill you can pick it up or if you don’t know how to do a certain thing you can get better at it by joining in these projects.” 

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