Registration for the 2020 edition of The American Rocketry Challenge – the world’s largest rocketry competition – is open through December 1, 2019.
Now in its 18th year, nearly 5,000 students from across the country participate annually. The 100 top-scoring teams are invited to the national finals in Washington, D.C. next May, where they’ll compete for over $100,000 in cash prizes and the chance to win an all-expenses paid trip to represent the United States in the upcoming 2020 International Rocketry Challenge in London.
The contest provides students in 6th–12th grades the opportunity to design, build, and launch model rockets, gaining hands-on experience solving engineering problems. Over the 17 years this program has existed, the rocket contest has inspired students to pursue studies and careers in STEM, and many have gone on to do cutting-edge work in the aerospace and defense industry.
This year, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) is making it easier for teams around the country to participate and succeed by providing financial support for Title I schools, adding additional access to industry mentors for all teams, and sharing online resources that draw on the lessons winning veteran teams have learned over the years.
“We’ve seen the life-changing impact this competition has had on the tens of thousands of students who’ve participated, but it’s not enough,” said AIA’s President and CEO, Eric Fanning. “We know there are countless more students who want to compete, so this year, in addition to offering mentorship for all teams, we’re making grants available to teams that wouldn’t otherwise be able to take part.”
The American Rocketry Challenge is sponsored by AIA, the National Association of Rocketry (NAR), and more than 20 aerospace industry partners, including NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Department of Defense.
Teams are made up of three to 10 students between 6th and 12th grade, a supervisor, and an official contest mentor. The rules vary slightly each year to provide a new challenge to competitors and ensure all teams are competing on a level playing field. The 2020 rules require teams to design, build, and launch a model rocket that carries one raw egg to an altitude of 800 feet, stays airborne for 40-43 seconds, and returns to the ground safely with the egg intact. At the national finals, teams will then have to adjust to two new altitude and time goals of 775 or 825 feet and 39-42 or 41-44 seconds respectively.
Financial Support for Title I Schools
To ensure that more schools have the resources necessary to compete, we’re proud to announce a new program directed specifically at Title I schools. For the first 30 Title I rookie teams who apply, we’ll be waiving our usual registration fee and awarding a $2,500 grant to support the team throughout the year. We’re also waiving the application fee and granting $2,500 to ten Title I schools that have previously competed in the Rocketry Challenge. Of these 40 teams, any who qualify for the national finals in Washington, D.C. will also be awarded another $5,000 for travel. You can learn more about the grants here: https://rocketcontest.org/Title1/.
Access to Industry Mentors
Along with our network of mentors from the National Association of Rocketry, AIA has partnered with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) to provide additional mentorship to our young rocketeers. These mentors will make a commitment to help teams with rocketry and provide a deeper understanding of the career options in the aerospace industry.
More Online Resources
The rocket contest’s website has been refreshed for this year’s competition, including a new set of resources to provide even more support for competing teams. In an effort to share lessons learned and best practices from those teams who have competed successfully, we added:
- An overview of the competition;
- A week-by-week timeline of what teams should be working on and key competition dates;
- Rocketry supply shopping lists, including suggestions on where to purchase supplies, and discounts from vendors;
- Instructional rocketry videos from the National Association of Rocketry;
- 2020 Rules for The American Rocketry Challenge;
- A sample letter to solicit local sponsorship if needed;
- A letter from the National Association of Rocketry outlining the safety of the hobby and competition; and,
- A curated selection of news articles highlighting the competition, like this one from Texas Monthly: https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/presidio-best-rocketry-club-in-country/
For more information on the contest, visit: www.rocketcontest.org.