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WVU Experimental Rocketry Club earns multiple awards in 2022 Spaceport America Cup

2022 WVU Rocketry Team in the desert.

WVU Experimental Rocketry Club competition participants from left to right: Elizabeth Breckenridge and Paislee Adlington (back row); Patrick Browning, Matteo Cerasoli, Corey Kinder, Tucker Johnson, Annette Straziuso, Noah Trimmer, Michael Borkoski, Joseph Shepard and Charles Howard (front row).

Among a group of 1,300 participants from 100 college and university teams globally, WVU Experimental Rocketry Club earned multiple awards in the 2022 Spaceport America Cup in June.

Story by Tara Heffernan, Multi-Media Specialist
Submitted Photo.


This event is the premiere, international collegiate rocketry event of the year. Participants come from all over the world to enter their high-powered experimental rocket.

“Once again, the WVU Experimental Rocketry Team has shown that Mountaineers absolutely shine on the global stage,” said Patrick Browning, teaching associate professor and rocketry faculty advisor. “The 2022 Spaceport America Cup was an incredibly significant event, not just for the WVU Experimental Rocketry Club’s Team, but for all the teams who came from around the world to participate in the competition, which had essentially been put on hold for two full competition cycles due to COVID.”

As a team, they earned first place in the 2022 Spaceport America Cup 30,000 foot Student Researched and Developed Solid Fueled category and second place with a cash award in the 2022 Space Dynamics Laboratory Payload Challenge. Team Lead, Joseph Shepard, was also awarded an individual Team Lead Challenge Coin recognizing his leadership efforts for this year’s team. Additionally, Elizabeth Breckenridge received individual recognition with a Social Media Challenge Coin, which she personally earned during her poster presentation for her work as the club’s media team lead.

“Winning first in our category, second in the payload competition, third overall, and being the best SRAD motor in the competition is a historical moment for us,” Breckenridge said. “We are centered around being able to give experiences that can’t quite be taught in the classroom, and we are very fortunate to have the chances we can get.”

The WVU Experimental Rocketry Club has consistently competed at the Spaceport America Cup in one or both of the 10,000 and 30,000 SRAD categories since its inception in 2017. In those categories, the rocket is anticipated to travel to a climax of either 10,000 or 30,000 feet, respectively, under the propulsion of a student research and developed solid rocket motor.

Student teams that enter this competition spend a year constructing a rocket airframe capable of flying high speeds, as well as a rocket motor to propel the rocket off the launchpad. Successful teams must engage in careful design, construction and execution with many members working together in different, but important technical and logistical roles.

The members of the WVU Experimental Rocketry Club include Joseph Shepard, who recently graduated with BS in computer science and electrical engineering; Annette Straziuso and Tucker Johnson, who both recently graduated with BS in mechanical and aerospace engineering; Matteo Cerasoli and Charles Howard, mechanical and aerospace engineering seniors; Paislee Adlington, Elizabeth Breckenridge, Michael Borkoski, Noah Trimmer, mechanical and aerospace engineering juniors; Corey Kinder, history junior; WVU Faculty Advisor Patrick Browning; and Club Technical Advisor Joseph Pscolka.

This achievement marked the team's first successful 30,000 foot competition flight, as well as its first fully functional scientific payload deployment. Watch Appalachian Sunset's historic flight here!



Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

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