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An Elective in Rocketry

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Aerospace Division Technical Session 2

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Paul F. Penko P.E. Baldwin Wallace University

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Paul F. Penko, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor, Baldwin Wallace University, Physics Department.

2005-10: Adjunct Professor, Ohio State University, Aerospace Engineering Department.

1969-2005: Aerospace Engineer, NASA Glenn Research Center.

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A 1 credit-hour elective is offered in rocketry within the Physics & Engineering Department for physics and engineering majors (a major in engineering was initiated this year). The course involves the complete process of engineering a rocket that is then launched. Lectures are given in the physics of trajectory analysis including both analytic equations and a numerical method. Stability analysis is also presented to insure proper positioning of center-of-mass with respect to center-of-pressure by considering drag and aerodynamic pressure forces. The necessary components and technique of construction are covered whereby students proceed to construct their rockets in the school shop. Students have options of single-stage, two-stage and multi-motor designs. Designs have to meet the specifications of the launch field, including remaining under the FAA waiver (allowable) altitude and within the allowable thruster size. Kits are not permitted. Designs must be originated by students using available materials from supplier websites and commercial hardware stores. Students may work individually or in teams of two. A preliminary design review is done about 8 weeks into the semester with a final design report and presentation done at end of the semester. Construction is typically not completed within the semester whereby the launch is conducted the following semester after completion of construction and when the field is available. The launch is administered by certified members of the National Association of Rocketry (NAR). The course is graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis whereby actual launch success is not a factor. The course is offered to sophomores thru seniors with at least one semester of each calculus & physics, though exceptions are made for students outside the STEM sphere. The course has now been offered at the current institution for the 5th year and has been well received by students as a practical engineering exercise.

Penko, P. F. (2018, June), An Elective in Rocketry Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29778

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