Nine Northwest Indian College students and their advisor arrived at the First Nations Launch in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 2, 2014. This year three teams were entered into the competition: Tribal Climate Change, AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society), and the Supersonic Challenge. The competition was held on Saturday, April 5 on a relatively sunny day.
For the first of the three launches the rocket was named “Flaming Arrow,” and after a rough landing, the rocket was recovered relatively intact. The AISES competition required reaching an altitude of no more than 3,000 feet, ejection of the lander, and for it to land upright under its own parachute. Although there were some technical difficulties, “Shewq” launched beautifully and deployed its parachute and lander as designed. “Machness,” the rocket designed for the Supersonic Challenge, lifted off and an audible pop was heard as the rocket broke the sound barrier at more than 767 mph. In addition to winning the challenge the rocket will be displayed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
“Being a part of a team that was able to accomplish such a task has brought such an amazing feeling to me, our club, and our entire school,” said Student Body President Ron Finkbonner. “I can’t exactly describe it in words, but I can say it has been a fun ride.”
NWIC Space Center also took first place in the Tribal Division, and won the Most Aesthetic Award—the paint design on the “Flaming Arrow” rocket was done by Lummi Tribal member Bill Jefferson. In the AISES Division the team took second place, falling short by 50 feet to UCLA’s team.
“The NWIC Space Center has provided me with immense opportunities to learn and apply the knowledge gained while also competing against many notable universities; It is an incredible experience being able to witness the ideas of students from other schools rocketing towards the heaven,” said Chris Cultee, student and member of the Space Center.
The NWIC Space Center team has been asked to collaborate with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association to better monitor the health of the local Orca whale pods.
“I am continually amazed by the success of the Rocket Club, led by faculty member Gary Brandt. He deserves a lot of credit for his ability to bring out the best in our students and for challenging them to reach new heights—literally—each year,” said NWIC President Justin Guillory about the Space Center. “I recently spoke with one of the students who attended the launch and he was beaming with excitement about his experience. I am proud of all of our students.”
The team traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah to participate in the NASA Student Launch this month as well.