West High School's winning rocketry team celebrates after winning the Team America Rocketry Challenge in Virginia. Team members are, from left, sophomore Meng Lou and juniors Hanwook Chua, Tashi Aruktsang and Suzanne Hanle.
DHARAMSHALA, May 16: A Tibetan teen is among a group that won a nationwide rocketry challenge held in The Plains, Virginia, United States last week.
Tashi Aruktsang was among the four-member team from the Madison West High School that clinched first prize at the 10th annual Team America Rocketry Challenge.
The winning team of Meng Lou, Hanwook Chua, Tashi Aruktsang, and Suzanne Hanle also won themselves an all paid trip to London to compete in the July 15 Farnborough International Air Show to defend America’s 2011 championship title, competing with the UK and France.
“We are so proud to represent our school in the Team America Rocketry Challenge, and we are honoured to compete internationally this summer in London on behalf of America,” said Hanle told reporters after the won.
Contestants at the challenge were required to design, build, and launch a rocket that reaches exactly 800 feet during a 43 to 47 - second flight, while making sure that the payload of two raw eggs parachute to the ground undamaged.
Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association and the National Association of Rocketry, this year’s national competition involved 99 teams from 48 states in the US.
Tashi’s team earned a score of 12, which the organisers deemed the most rigorous in the competition’s 10-year history.
The winning team also has an opportunity to participate in NASA’s Student Launch Initiative, an advanced rocketry design program.
The competition which commenced in 2003 as a way to mark the 100th anniversary of flight fosters interest in aerospace engineering careers among the participants and encourages students to enter careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
Tashi Atruktsang's older brother, Tenzin Sonam Atruktsang, had also won the same championship in 2009.