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Horizontal Propulsion Using Model Rocket Engines (Part A)

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics and Physics

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Paper Authors


Hüseyin Sarper P.E. Old Dominion University

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Hüseyin Sarper, Ph.D., P.E. is a Master Lecturer with a joint appointment the Engineering Fundamentals Division and the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. He was a professor of engineering and director of the graduate programs at Colorado State University – Pueblo in Pueblo, Col. until 2013. He was also an associate director of Colorado's NASA Space Grant Consortium between 2007 and 2013. His degrees, all in industrial engineering, are from the Pennsylvania State University (BS) and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (MS and Ph.D.). His interests include Space, manufacturing, reliability, economic analysis, and renewable energy.

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Nebojsa I. Jaksic Colorado State University, Pueblo Orcid 16x16

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NEBOJSA I. JAKSIC earned the Dipl. Ing. (M.S.) degree in electrical engineering from Belgrade University (1984), the M.S. in electrical engineering (1988), the M.S. in industrial engineering (1992), and the Ph.D. in industrial engineering from the Ohio State University (2000). He is currently a Professor at Colorado State University-Pueblo teaching robotics and automation courses. Dr. Jaksic has over 90 publications and holds two patents. Dr. Jaksic's interests include robotics, automation, and nanotechnology engineering education and research. He is a licensed PE in the State of Colorado, a member of ASEE, a senior member of IEEE, and a senior member of SME.

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To provide first year engineering students with hands-on experiences and teach them the applications of both dynamics and other physics laws, this team project uses wooden derby vehicles (coupe, truck, and bus) that are propelled horizontally with various grades of model rocket engines. The vehicles have wheels, but they are also hooked on to and guided by a steel cable stretched along a 16- or 24-foot runway. Each vehicle was modified as follows: a hole was drilled in the back of the vehicle, then, an engine is inserted in the hole, and an altimeter that doubles as an accelerometer was fitted on top of the vehicle. The student team projects were centered on calculating the speed and distance curves by numerically integrating the acceleration data downloaded after each run with the goal calculating impact energy. Vehicles were constructed, painted, and fitted by the students. Drilling of 2″ long (45/64)″ diameter holes for engine insertions was performed by the staff. This project includes a significant application of MS Excel programming to accomplish the goals. Most of the students are introduced to MS Excel in this course. Students enjoyed this activity in the past as they learned how to code several sets of dynamics and other physics equations using MS Excel. They were also exposed to the idea of numerical integration. The students were able to study and apply the concept of integration as they analyzed data obtained from horizontal propulsion. The concept of area under the curve and its importance in engineering was introduced. Each team wrote a technical report that explained the overall project. Students used pictures and graphs to illustrate various parts of the project. Many students felt this was an exciting and a worthwhile learning experience that exposed them to concepts in science and engineering that they will be studying in future coursework. For the above set of activities for the Fall 2020 semester, the students’ learning survey will be analyzed to assess more formally educational effects of this project.

Sarper, H., & Jaksic, N. I. (2021, July), Horizontal Propulsion Using Model Rocket Engines (Part A) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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