On July 18th teams of American, British, and French students met at the Farnborough Air Show to compete in the International Rocketry Challenge. The annual event is the culmination of a series of model rocketry contests held in each country to encourage students to pursue studies in science and mathematics. The final standings:
- France’s Valleys College from the La Garenne-Colombes suburb of Paris. They won France’s Rocketry Challenge last month.
- The United States’ Creekview High School from Canton, Georgia. They won the Team America Rocketry Challenge in May after a series of contests that involved over 3,000 students. (See earlier posts here and here)
- The United Kingdom’s North Halifax Grammar School from Yorkshire. The students won the UK Aerospace Youth Rocketry Challenge (UKayroc) in late June, beating a field of 100 student rocket teams from across Britain.
While all of the students had a lot of fun, these rocket contests serve a higher purpose. The students get a chance to apply their science and mathematics skills to achieving real results, and encourages them to pursue careers in science, engineering, and mathematics.
Aerospace company Raytheon - the sponsor of America's team - issued a statement after the contest:
Thomas A. Kennedy, CEO of Raytheon, said “The knowledge, discipline and commitment displayed by students to make it to this level of competition is extraordinary.”
Amanda Semler, captain of the American team said, “I had a great time being out here with all of the other people from different countries and meeting other people with similar interests. I hope it will inspire other women to get into the industry and reach their dreams."
Amanda isn’t alone. This report from NationSwell shortly after the Team America Rocketry Challenge cited surveys showing women represent only 24% of professionals in the aerospace industry - and even fewer are engineers - but reported that rocket contests and other programs are helping to turn those numbers around.