The team members consist of (front row from left) Phil Benoit, Tonia Edman, Brianna Mitchell, Robert Edman, (back) Christian Smith, Eric Kuha (advisor), Daniel May and Kelly Nipp (advisor).

The Leech Lake Lakers Rocket team traveled with six students to the First Nations Launch in Kenosha, Wis., to compete against other Tribal and AISES teams.

The April 25 competition is put on by the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium and run through Carthage College, Kenosha, Wis.  The competition is for Tribal Colleges and AISES teams throughout the USA where each school is given $3,000 to build, travel, and launch their rocket for competition at Bong Recreation State Park.  In conjunction with the Wisconsin Space Grant, Leech Lake Tribal College was assisted financially by the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium through the University of Minnesota.  

The rocket team started the high powered rocket build in January and was responsible for writing reports and presenting power points covering the team rocket build throughout the process until the launch April 27 at Bong Recreation State Park.  For the competition, the students selected a 4-inch diameter, 5-foot tall rocket made by MadCow Rocketry that weighed 13.5 pounds when completed.  During the build, students learned the different aspects of the rocket, which included construction, wiring, programming, and simulating the rocket’s performance through Open Rocket.  At the competition, students were required to give a 15-minute power point presentation of their rocket build and predictions based  on Open Rocket simulations.  

On launch day the competition parameters were to have the rocket go between 2,500 and 3,000 feet high and take video on the ascent and descent.  Leech Lake successfully launched their rocket two times with both launches hitting 2,500 feet and successfully recovered it, with all components working as predicted.

Through this process Leech Lake Tribal College won multiple awards as they were the top team out of 18 schools:

• Next Step Award – Rock On: Award is given to the team that was best overall, most prepared, and ready for the next step of rocketry.

The school was awarded $15,000 to fund two students who will be going to a 10-day workshop at Wallops, Va. Students will build a payload that will be flown by NASA to suborbital space and recovered in the ocean. Students will then get their payload back and be able to examine the data they collected during the flight.

• First place for the Tribal Competition as Leech Lake received 95.72 points out of 100 points for the overall rocket build, reports, orals and launch.

With the recognition of first place, the team was awarded $6,000 to put toward a trip to Kennedy Space Center where they will get a private tour in mid-July.

• Second place Written Design Reports (team had to hand in four written reports as the rocket was built).

• Second place oral reports.

• Second place altitude (predicting closest to the height of rocket flight).

• Spirit Award: Most helpful and enthusiastic about rocketry.  Leech Lake was given a piece of foam that was trimmed off of a Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter that will be used to propel NASA’s new generation of rockets from earth orbit out to the moon and back.

Although Leech Lake Tribal College has won numerous awards over the last nine years of the competition, this is the first time the college has won the overall top team award and the trip to Kennedy Space Center since the introduction of the trip in 2014.

“I cannot be more thrilled and proud of our Rocket Club for not only competing against Tribal Colleges as well as such schools as UCLA, UNC-Pembroke, University of Hawaii-Manoa, but to come out on top with the highest score of any school competing is an amazing achievement,” President Raymond Burns stated. “We at Leech Lake Tribal College have always said that we can compete with any school in the nation, but to come out and back up our words is a testament to what we can offer to students at Leech Lake Tribal College.  All kudos to our faculty advisors and, of course, the students for representing Leech Lake Tribal College with such distinction.”

Leech Lake Tribal College’s rocketry program has been an exciting curricular activity for students, and with all of the success that has been gained this year, we look forward to building a stronger program.


Recommended for you

Load comments