The Michigan Aeronautical Science Association (MASA) was recently featured on MGoBlue for its innovative work with student rocketry. As expressed in the MASA mission statement:
“Our goal is to teach students about the basics of rocketry and to provide hands-on exposure to the design, build, and test phases of engineering. The program also seeks to research and experiment with growing areas of rocketry such as hybrid propulsion and composite materials.”
Each year, MASA student participants develop rockets to compete in the annual Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC). This year, they will compete in two categories – Basic and Advanced – with the goal of designing rockets that can reach altitudes of 10,000 feet and 30,000 feet respectively. Robyn Hinchman, Aerospace graduate student and MASA President, explains:
“Being in this group provides you with a lot of real-world experience that you won’t get in the classroom. We hold tutorials for software, we teach you how to build things in our build sessions, we [introduce you] to avionics, the basis of propulsion, even if you haven’t taken the required classes yet.”
"Being in this group provides you with real-world experience that you won’t get in the classroom."Robyn Hinchman
This year, the MASA team will leverage their success in 2016 IREC competition to continue develop of a hybrid rocket motor. Last year, MASA took home 2nd place in the Advanced category as the only student-built hybrid rocket to make it off the launch pad.
Tyler Sandberg, Aerospace Engineering undergraduate and MASA Propulsion Lead, describes the uniqueness of the experience:
“We build rockets that fly and things that fly are just a lot cooler than things that don’t. It’s a lot of fun – you get to make a lot of fire, a lot of loud noises and send something up to 30,000 feet. It’s not every day that you can design and build something with your own hands that can do that.”