Sonic Eagle | June 19, 2013 | Spotlight

Sonic Eagle team commences ‘count down’ of competition

Students attempt to propel supersonic rocket to an altitude of 25,000 feet

Photo of Sonic Eagle team and supersonic rocket project.

Preparing its rocket for launch, Cal State L.A.’s Sonic Eagle team is counting down until the 8th Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition on June 20-22 in Green River, Utah.

A group of nine engineering students, directed by CSULA adjunct faculty member Charles Hoult, will face off against three other college teams in the Advanced Category of the aerospace engineering competition.

The CSULA team includes seniors Elvia Cortes, Salvador Garnica, Shahan Khalighi, Peter Lee, Benjamin Liu, Azizkhan Pathan, Jonathan Ramos, Nathan Suppanade, and Joseph Wells.

“This team is a model example of team work, clearly well organized and applying engineering principles to a complex problem,” said CSULA faculty member Ted Nye, who teaches a senior design class for the University’s College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology. “They will no doubt be successful in the rocket competition that brings together their analytical predictions with real-world physical behavior.”

The annual intercollegiate competition, organized by the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association (ESRA), challenges students to design, build and launch a rocket carrying a payload weighing at least 10 pounds to an altitude as close as possible to 25,000 feet above the ground, and then recover it in the Utah desert.

Nye indicated Hoult, a retired aerospace engineer, as well as his wife, CSULA Emerita Professor Janet Fisher-Hoult, also provided major funding and technical support for the rocket project.

ESRA, founded in 2003, seeks to further the field of experimental sounding rocketry, which is defined as crafts capable of reaching space and used to obtain information about the atmosphere at various altitudes.

“The CSULA team has done modeling on each of their subsystems followed by wind tunnel testing, several test launches, built many prototypes, and built structural models—truly impressive applications of scientific principles to achieve a superb design,” explained CSULA faculty member David Raymond, who helped sponsor the team in the 2013 Measurement Science Conference in Anaheim this past March.

Additionally, mechanical engineering majors Liu, Pathan and Wells recently garnered first place in the undergraduate division of the Engineering & Computer Sciences category for their presentation, entitled “Experimental Sounding Supersonic Rocket Design,” at the 27th Annual CSU Student Research Competition at Cal Poly Pomona.

“Liu, Pathan and Wells along with six others in the team have been exceptional all year,” Nye added. “They have combined the best of engineering to achieve optimum rocket performance.”

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