For our first year, The Rocket Launchers placed 7th place out of 44 competing schools internationally, and 2nd place nationally without any sponsors.
At the 2016 IREC, The Rocket Launchers had the opportunity to talk, learn, and network with other rocket clubs. The team noticed that the difference between them and the other teams was that many of them could do multiple tests like test flights, static tests, etc., something that The Rocket Launchers could not conduct because of their lack of funds.
Since the other rocket clubs had opportunities of making prototypes for their systems, they were working with more advanced materials, tools, and equipment, which allowed them to come up with better systems to use on their rocket. It is important to mention that the smallest amount of funding other colleges received was approximately $6000.
When the organization began, The Rocket Launchers’ did not have money to buy the rocket components. Therefore, the team had to decide whether to focus their first year on fundraising and waiting to compete until the following year, or funding the project themselves. Because of their strong believe and passion for the project, they decided to compete that year despite the lack of funds.
Judges at competition nicknamed the team’s rocket as the “Out of Pocket Rocket” for being the only team who did not receive any funding. To go to competition, the members had to pay for their own food, pitch in money for the van’s gas, the hotel room fee, as well as other expenses. The team’s method of transportation to competition was a team member’s van, whose A/C system broke down while driving through the desert. These were some of the challenges that other colleges did not go through.