Members of the Rocket Mocs are, from left, Dr. Trevor Elliott, William Reynolds, Dillon Grider, Andrew Blankenship, Austin Sims, Caleb Casey, and Kevin Braziel.

Only a few months after creating a team to explore aerospace concepts and design, students in UTC’s College of Engineering and Computer Science came away ranked third in the nation.

Calling themselves the Rocket Mocs, members of the UTC team designed, engineered and manufactured their debut entry for the University Student Rocketry Challenge, a competition featuring about 40 teams from other universities. All teams were comprised of members from Students for Exploration and Development of Space chapters.

“I couldn’t be happier for them,” said UTC faculty advisor Dr. Trevor Elliott. “They represented UTC very well against well-established competitors and aerospace programs.”

Judges for the competition were aerospace industry professionals from companies such as Unite Launch Alliances, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Corp. One judge noted that the top three contenders were clearly set apart from the other teams and final placement came down to a very small point margin.

First place in the competition went to the University of Missouri and second place was Arizona State University.

The UTC rocket was built in conjunction with a senior-level design course in which the team developed models, performed simulations, constructed prototypes, completed test launches and analyzed post flight data.

“The idea of studying rocket propulsion for a class project started out as an intimidating feat for our team,” says Design Team Leader William Reynolds. “As inexperienced undergraduate students, we learned that we have been given the tools to study interdisciplinary engineering applications and came out of this experience with a deep understanding of the field of aeronautics and a passion to continue such work post-graduation.”

Kevin Braziel, the team’s launch control and recovery systems designer, says the competition“opened up new opportunities to learn about rockets, space exploration and developments currently taking place, and even specific companies who combine all these and more into inspiring careers. …  I personally hope that this incredible experience might eventually lead me on a path to a career in the aerospace industry.”

To read a synopsis of the team’s work and see its design portfolio, go to:


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2 Comments » for Newly created UTC rocket team ranked third in the nation after competition
  1. Andrew Blankenship says:

    I also want to thank Dr. Screenivas and Dr. Newman at the SimCenter for their countless hours in the summer months for assistance with drag coefficients on a supersonic rocket prototype that flew at Wendover, Utah. It exceeded the university’s wind tunnel specs. Normally a drag coefficient is referenced from a fluid mechanics textbook, and the SimCenter staff had the software and decades of experience to actually find one from the design models created in solidworks. From that first test launch experience we learned and adapted to hard lessons that pushed all of us. Not many rocket teams design and launch two rockets. We wanted this to start the foundation of aerospace related programs since most of the mechanical engineering professors have related industry experience.

    This course was really challenging and highly rewarding from a design perspective trying to do aerodynamics as an undergraduate mechanical. I have the ability to design stable rockets with free amatuer rocketry software then generate the nosecones and even zero lift airfoils in CAD from technical documents. We all learned a whole bunch more than can be said. We plan for next year’s team to go further. We only got third because a sustainer stage commercial reload exploded.
    Getting the payload back is enough to win at SEDS if altitude is high enough. As some else once said a multistage rocket is ten times more intense than a single stage. Designing one as your first rocket, it just makes it exponentially more intense with what can and will go wrong. This was a massive team effort. We had mechanical, nuclear, and environmental student engineers doing aerospace and electrical tasks on a limited budget. Thanks to Aerotek for the internships over the summer at VW.

    Some of the parts like the payload bay were printed on campus while other parts such as fins and nosecones of higher tolerance were outsourced to industry.
    A launchpad baseplate was CNC plasma cut here and the Steel Supply Co supplied the steel. We had designed an adjustable launch pad.

    Also thanks to Dr. Margraves, Dr. McDonald,Dr. Rising, Mr. Swords, and Mrs. Andrea for all the help behind the scenes.

  2. Sarah Alsobrooks says:

    This is great! So proud of our students and the work they are doing!