Students’ rockets reach for the sky

USW rocketry society test. Dec 2011.

The students involved in the rocket launches

Students have been discovering that, when it comes to proving their engineering skills, it is – quite literally – rocket science.

Learners from Coleg Gwent and The College Merthyr Tydfil recently joined undergraduates from the University of South Wales (USW) to launch rockets they had built as part of a project run by USW Rocketry Society.

The college students were able to build rockets after recently spending time on USW’s Treforest Campus, learning more about the various technical aspects of rocketry in a special session organised by the University’s School of Engineering.

With the weather perfect, and with permission from air traffic control, the students were able to launch their rockets from a field close to Magor in Gwent, enabling them to test their construction and engineering skills.

Dr Leshan Ugalla. Rocket launch event, Dec 2021Senior lecturer Dr Leshan Uggalla, left, who plays a lead role in USW’s Rocketry Society, was at the launch session to support the students along with the visiting professor, Dr Phil Charlesworth, who is the technical lead for USW Rocketry Society.

“It was great that they could see how their learning and hard work was put into action, and for them to witness the rockets flying into the sky at phenomenal speeds – some of them went more than 1,500 feet into the air,” Dr Uggalla said.

“The sessions we held at USW gave them a detailed understanding of what makes a rocket fly, and let them see some of the rockets being built at USW," Dr Charlesworth said.

“It was not just these students who will benefit. We are trying to create a culture that promotes STEM (science, electronic, engineering and maths) in the region, and to show how these subjects can be challenging and lead to exciting careers,” Dr Uggalla added.

“Our intention is to work with more schools and colleges and possibly expand the Rocketry Society, so that more youngsters can enjoy these sessions and get to test their own creations.”

The Rocketry Society works with students who volunteer to take part in designing, managing, monitoring, and constructing rockets from scratch. 

Underlaid by structural, electrical and electronics, and mechanical techniques, it gives students who study such subjects, and others who have an interest in rockets and space, the chance to gain hands-on experience in the many different skillsets utilised by the UK space and aero industries. 

Since its foundation in November 2018, the Society has designed, built, launched, and successfully recovered rockets reaching up to 3,000, feet, as well as winning the UKSEDS National Rocketry Championship in 2018/19.

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