In celebration of TARC’s 15th anniversary, we asked our rocketeers to pen short essays describing why they participate in the TARC program. Three finalists were selected for publication on the TARC site and one received a first place prize of $500. Rebecca Zurek’s essay won second runner up.
“Why I do TARC”
By: Rebecca Zurek
(Prince of Peace Catholic School)
I do TARC because it enables me to express who I am and what I aspire to be in the future. I yearn to build rockets that go into deep space and help better our civilization. TARC has given me the opportunity to chart a course for my future as an aerospace engineer. There are great mentors to help guide those of us who are determined to learn about rocketry. TARC has helped me so much this year and has gotten me more deeply involved in rocketry than I could have ever dreamed possible.
In the beginning of the year I didn’t know anything about rocketry. I liked to tinker and design things for fun. I had no idea how to build a rocket, let alone know the different parts of a rocket and their functions. Rocketry intrigued me, so I decided to give it a try… I instantly fell in love with the opportunities that lie ahead to explore, design, be challenged, and invent. I became more involved and discovered TARC from my local NAR rocket club. There were no teams in my area that I could join, so I decided to start my own team. I presented the opportunity to the Principal and I started a rocket club and TARC team at my school this year. This is something completely new for our community, and certainly a new path for “a girl”. Although this is my first year of doing TARC, I absolutely love it and am challenged to strive for my dreams. It teaches me even more than I thought rocketry was about. I thought one just followed a direction manual and flew the rocket. However, what I soon realized is that one must be precise and exact in everything done, because it’s that important; that one can make one’s own rocket without following a predetermined, off the shelf manual. By exploring new categories in the design, function, and building of a rocket I came to realize that, to make one’s own rocket, one should utilize rocket design software to assist in creating a more detailed model and exploring things such as the importance of angle of attack when simulating a rocket’s stability.
My team and I learned how to make rockets using flight simulation software and use different software for designing and building parts of the rocket. CAD, or computer aided design software, is one of the programs we use. We design the parts that we want to make, prepare the part file for Computer Aided Manufacturing, or CAM, transfer them onto an SD card, which then we put into my 3D printer to create our actual working parts. Very few of our peers understand these concepts, let alone how we can strive to create and implement them with our TARC team to complete a successful mission.
It’s so much fun and inspiring to be learning all of the different techniques and skills. Whether it is team building, learning basic rocketry, CAD design and engineering, cutting body tubes, simulating flight trajectories, printing parts, or launching our rockets – I have a blast! I know that TARC will impact my future because it already has ignited a burning desire in me for exploration and innovation. TARC helps me better understand the field that I have a passion for. TARC enables me to gain more experience in rocketry, while meeting and learning from peers and mentors. TARC has given me the opportunity to dream and achieve beyond what is taught in school and that is what will make me an important part of our country and world’s development in aerospace technology in the future. Thank you TARC for the exciting trajectory you’ve set me on!