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Student Activities, Research and Development in High-power Rocket Propulsion and Systems Engineering

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Hands-on Activities and Student Learning in Aerospace Engineering - II - Student Papers

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James Cook

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Maxim G. Strehle


Jonathan William Schaefer Saint Louis Rocket Propulsion Lab

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Jonathan Schaefer is a third year student studying aerospace engineering at Saint Louis University. He is currently the structures co-lead within Rocket Propulsion Lab were he has fabricated and assembled the structural components of their teams rockets. As a first year co-lead his team’s rocket placed 5th in their division. Growing up in Dubuque, Iowa he has been continually drawn to outer space and the methods in which to get there. In addition to his engineering work, he also competes on Saint Louis Universities division 1 cross county and track and field team year round. Since he first stepped foot on campus he has continually pursued community service and giving back.

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T. Alex Ambro Saint Louis University

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William Hiser

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Andrew Riddle


Sanjay Jayaram Saint Louis University

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Dr. Sanjay Jayaram is an associate professor in the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Department
of Saint Louis University. He obtained his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from University of Central
Florida in 2004. He teaches control systems/mechatronics, space systems engineering and astronautics
related courses as well as engineering sciences courses. He has published several peer reviewed journal
and conference papers in these areas. His research areas are space systems, robust fault tolerant control,
nonlinear control, adaptive control, small spacecraft design, high performance spacecraft components,
mechatronics, real-time health monitoring, and diagnostic methodology.

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The Rocket Propulsion Laboratory at Saint Louis University primarily focusses in student-run, undergraduate research in high-power propulsion system design and development as well as design and development of high-power rocketry systems providing the students with experiential learning opportunities to develop critical skills and knowledge in designing, building, and testing rocket subsystems. Current projects include a modular solid propellant research engine, an integrated flight tested solid propellant engine, design and analysis of rocket recovery systems, as well as several others. The student lead rocketry lab currently has nearly 50 students, and faculty advisors not only from the undergraduate engineering programs, but also from four other schools at the university. The lab has established partnerships with expert mentors from local Rocketry Association and with the university’s chemistry department to permit the safe mixing of rocket propellant and casting of fuel grains for our solid rocket engine designs. The lab completed two very challenging Student Researched and Developed (SRAD) high power rocket projects for launch at the 2nd Annual Spaceport America Cup at White Sands, New Mexico in 2018. Project Wayfinder rocket was the university’s entry into the 10,000-foot SRAD category of the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC). Project BillikenOne rocket was the engineering college’s Aerospace Engineering Senior Design entry in the high-altitude demonstration flight category, as an attempt to set the college’s rocket project altitude record of over 50,000 feet altitude as part of the Bicentennial Celebration. This paper describes the research and development effort of the solid rocket engine designs, experiences of the undergraduate students who have participated in the competition and lessons learned through this experience, and a few key projects undergoing current development. It will be shown that these projects focus on the principles of systems engineering with highly detailed systems/subsystems design for rocket systems and propulsion systems. These projects have shown to offer unique opportunities for students to experience real-world challenges that are typically faced by the aerospace industries on a daily basis.

Cook, J., & Strehle, M. G., & Schaefer , J. W., & Ambro, T. A., & Hiser, W., & Riddle, A., & Jayaram, S. (2019, June), Student Activities, Research and Development in High-power Rocket Propulsion and Systems Engineering Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33289

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