Tarleton team places sixth in international rocket competition

TSU Rocket Boys

Tarleton State University


Monday, June 11, 2012

STEPHENVILLE, Texas—The Tarleton Aeronautical Team placed sixth out of 41 teams in the international collegiate CanSat Competition held June 8-10 near Cross Plains, Texas. Only one U.S. team ranked higher.

CanSat is a student design-build-launch rocket competition open to university teams from around the world. The event involves the design of a planetary lander and carrier that contains a biological payload. Teams were judged on the preliminary design, a critical review of the design, the actual launch and a post-flight review.

The Tarleton students “learned a lot about real world engineering, science and mathematics,” said Dr. Bowen Brawner, a math professor and the team’s adviser. “I could not be prouder of them. It was a lot of hard work but it was worth it. These kids proved to themselves that they could compete with the best in the world.”

Brawner said that Tarleton placed higher than some of the top aeronautical schools in the world, including Embry-Riddle, California State Polytechnic, Virginia Tech, University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Minnesota and Khalifa Technology and Academic Research from the United Arab Emirates.

The overall winner was a team from Istanbul Technical University in Turkey. The only U.S. team to rank higher than Tarleton was from the University of Michigan.

The Tarleton team, an interdisciplinary group of students, was formed last October. It was the brainchild of Dustin Neighbors, a sophomore engineering physics major and team leader.

“For the first year that Tarleton had an aeronautical team, we got sixth in the world and second in the U.S.,” Neighbors said. “That’s pretty ridiculous. We’re definitely proud of what we accomplished. It was pretty cool having teams from the likes of Virginia Tech shaking our hands and congratulating us!

“It wouldn’t have been possible without the math department,” Neighbors added. “Dr. Brawner and Dr. (Bryant) Wyatt, head of the math department, have been great.”

Neighbors said the Tarleton team is already making plans for an even more ambitious project—the NASA University Student Launch Initiative next spring. That competition requires teams to design and build a reusable rocket and launch a scientific or engineering payload to one mile above ground level.

In addition to Neighbors, team members include Cletus Furhmann, senior physics major; Tyler Case, sophomore chemistry major; Jake Rhodes, senior engineering physics major; Billy Fournier, senior math major; Greg Mosier, junior engineering physics major; Blake Lohn-Wiley, math graduate student; Ethan Moore, junior physics major; Keith Coughlin, senior industrial technology major; and John Phillips, junior computer science major.

“American universities need to excel in projects like this to keep from falling behind in math and science,” said Dr. Wyatt. “I could not be prouder of our Tarleton students.”

Sponsoring organizations for the CanSat included the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Astronautical Society and NASA.

View a video of our students discussing the project.


Tarleton State University

A member of The Texas A&M University System

Contact: Joe Michael Feist



Facebook Twitter

Tarleton team places sixth in international rocket competition - Media Relations - Tarleton State University