NWIC Space Center Rocket Goes Supersonic

Jun 18th, 2014 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive

ROCKETEERS. NWIC Space Center students pose with U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (center).

Nine Northwest Indian College (NWIC, Bellingham, WA) students took part in the First Nations Launch in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this year. Three teams were entered into the competition for tribal climate change, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), and the Supersonic Challenge.

In the Supersonic Challenge, NWIC students used a rocket nicknamed “Flaming Arrow” for the first three rounds. The AISES competition required reaching an altitude of no more than 3,000 feet, ejection of a lander, followed by an upright parachute landing. Although there were some technical difficulties, the rocket nicknamed “Shewq” launched beautifully and deployed its parachute and lander as designed. “Machness,” another rocket designed for the Supersonic Challenge, lifted off and an audible pop was heard by all as the rocket broke the sound barrier at more than 767 mph. In addition to winning the challenge, the NWIC rocket will be displayed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Student body president, Ron Finkbonner stated, “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! I can’t exactly describe it in words, but I can say it has been a fun ride!”

NWIC’s Space Center—the college’s student rocket club—also took first place in the tribal division, and won an award for aesthetics. Lummi tribal member Bill Jefferson painted the design on the rocket Flaming Arrow. In the AISES division the team took second place, falling short by 50 feet to the University of California at Los Angeles’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 heavens,” 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. NWIC president, Justin Guillory stated, “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. 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.”

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