Rocket Team

St. Vincent-St. Mary fields 8 rocket teams that compete in the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC). The 2017 contest challenges high school students from across the country to design and build a rocket that climbs to an altitude of exactly 750 feet, stayed aloft for between 41 and 43 seconds, be a minimum length of 65 centimeters and have a mass of 650 grams or less at takeoff.

This year the rockets' aft air frame is required to be narrower than the upper payload air frame. Students design the rockets using computer software and then subject their designs to simulations to determine the flight characteristics. Students use 3D modeling to design rocket transitions and fincans and then manufacture them on 3D printers. The payload load consists of a raw egg that cannot be broken during the flight and recovery and an barometric altimeter. Students compete for $100,000 in prizes and numerous scholarships, as well as a chance to compete nationally at the finals held at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va. (near Washington, D.C.). The winning team also earns the chance to attend either the International Air Show in Paris, France or the Farnborough Air Show outside of London, England to compete against the best rocket teams from around the globe.

2016 was the seventh year in a row that STVM has sent teams to the national finals and the 10th time in the 12 years the contest has been in existence. STVM has sent a total of 18 teams to the previous national competitions in 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2008, 2005 and 2004. Team Bravo finished fourth in the nation in 2015 and won $11,000. The prize money was donated by the team to the school's rocket program.

About 4,000 students from across the country take part in the contest this, its fourteenth year. Since TARC's first contest in 2003, over 65,000 students have participated in the challenge. The Aerospace Industries Association sponsors the contest with the National Association of Rocketry, NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, the American Association of Physics Teachers and AIA member companies.

TARC is aimed at attracting students to science, math and technology education and, ultimately, careers in the aerospace industry. With nearly 60 percent of the aerospace workforce over the age of 50, AIA and other industry leaders hope to spark the interest of future aerospace engineers with programs like TARC. For more information about the Team America Rocketry Challenge visit

Teams from STVM begin designing and building their rockets over the summer months and begin flight testing in the fall. Flight testing usually occurs from October to April. Teams reaching the finals travel to Manassas, Virginia the second weekend in May for the national fly-off. STVM's rocket teams are generously sponsored by NMG Aerospace, an aerospace machining company with its headquarters in Stow, Ohio. If you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities or ahve any questions, please contact Bob Engels, the team advisor at

NASA/STVM Student Launch Initiative