One Thousand Days Transformed - The Campaign for Cedarville

by Cara Groves

Liftoff! After nine months of rigorous building and testing, Cedarville University’s Rocket Team will launch its full-scale rocket prototype at the NASA Student Launch competition on April 10-14 in Huntsville, Alabama. The NASA Student Launch provides middle school, high school and college and university students from across the nation with the opportunity to design, build, test and launch vehicle and payload components that support the Space Launch System and Artemis missions.

“This competition provides aerospace-minded students that are interested in working with rockets in the future to gain relevant experience in the field,” said Ginny Clark, team leader and senior mechanical engineering student from Hurricane, West Virginia.

Competing in the NASA Student Launch is a rigorous and selective process. Teams must submit a proposal to the Student Launch Challenge – University Student Launch Initiative and participate in a series of design reviews that simulate the NASA engineering design process. Not all teams that apply are admitted into the competition.

“It’s a difficult competition to get accepted into. And teams must propose their project before they can start working,” said Dr. Tom Ward, professor of mechanical engineering and team advisor. “It’s a small and highly selective competition.”

NASA Rocket TeamThis year, 50 teams nationwide will compete in the competition in Alabama, including Ohio State University and the United States Air Force Academy. Each team must complete a preliminary design review, critical design review, flight readiness review and launch readiness review before its final competition flight. On top of that, teams are expected to analyze their payload and flight data during competition — the closer the team is to calculating its rocket’s altitude, the more points they score.

Cedarville’s team members are using the various skills they learned during their four years of study to build their successful 6-foot-8-inch rocket prototype. To make the competition more challenging, NASA has changed the payload requirements for this year’s competition.

“The payload must separate from the main rocket and come down without a parachute,” Ward said. “That’s difficult to do, so we plan to install rotating propellers. We also have Lego astronauts inside, called stem knots, and a G-force meter to make sure the astronauts land safely.”

In their final weeks before the competition, the team has a few changes to make to their rocket and must have one more successful launch.


Cedarville’s team consists of senior mechanical engineering students Ginny Clark (Hurricane, West Virginia), Drake Beckloff (Cedarville, Ohio), Jonathan Bukasa (Johannesburg, South Africa), Cade Gehman (Hot Springs, South Dakota) and Connor Hall (Pawcatuck, Connecticut), as well as senior electrical engineering students David Cox (Cedarville, Ohio), David Allocca (Mechanicsville, Maryland), Christopher Needham (Grand Island, Nebraska) and Nathan Streb (Florence, Montana). The team also has two junior volunteers: Joseph Copeland (Godley, Texas) and Daniel Hogsed (Centerville, Ohio), as well as sophomore Leah Twarog (Meriden, New Hampshire). All of the students are majoring in mechanical engineering.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is a Baptist university with undergraduate programs in arts, sciences, and professional programs, and graduate programs. With an enrollment of 5,456 students in 175 areas of study, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio and is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, such as the Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, and high graduation and retention rates. For more information about the university, visit

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