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It’s Only Rocket Science: The Last E80 Rocket Launches

On April 16 and 23, all of the sophomore engineering majors gathered early in the morning to travel to Lucerne Valley and launch the last E80 rockets. Experimental Engineering, or E80, is a required class for all engineering majors that teaches students about basic instrumentation, measurement techniques, professional practice and data collection by giving them the opportunity to work in the lab and the field. Since 2008, E80 has culminated with students flying fully-instrumented model rockets of their own construction at the end of each semester. However, next year E80 is being revised so that students will instead have the chance to build underwater robots. So this year marks the last ever E80 rocket launches.

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While flying rockets sounds extremely fun, it’s also, you know, rocket science, and so E80 is also known for being one of the most time-consuming engineering classes. In particular, students write a report at the end of the semester that analyzes the data they collect during their rocket launches, and so teams whose rockets malfunction or crash can have particularly busy weeks trying to rebuild their rockets before the next set of launches.

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“I thought the class was a fantastically stressful learning experience. We had to learn to do all kinds of things I had never done before, and never imagined doing, like using a wind tunnel that took up the whole room, testing motors in Linde field, and, of course, launching rockets in the middle of nowhere,” Kyla Scott ’18 said. “I think this course was really valuable because not only did we learn many new technical skills, but we also experienced the time pressure and inevitable technical difficulties that we’ll doubtlessly face in the real world.”

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While preparation for the launch took many hours, as rockets soared into the air the last few Saturday mornings, students felt proud to be participating in these final E80 rocket launches.

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Photos courtesy of: Lupe Carlos ’18, Richard Liu ’18, Emily Swindle ’18, and Anjaneya Malpani ’18

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