Partnerships: A Gateway to the Future of STEM

Partnerships are essential. That slogan goes beyond our gratitude to our students, team coaches, mentors and the more than 20 generous industry sponsors like the Raytheon Company, Lockheed Martin Corporation and Thales USA, who encourage thousands of students to pursue STEM each year. It extends to regional competitions and teachers driving engaging lessons in the classroom with a sense of determination to accomplish a common goal: investing in the future of STEM and aerospace.

The University of North Alabama  will host its regional rocketry challenge on March 25 at Russellville Middle School, which happens to be the home of the 2015 International Rocketry Champion RCS Engineers. This year, Alabama ranks among the states with the most teams participating in TARC. That’s a big deal, and credit goes to the combined regional commitment to introducing and encouraging students to get involved in STEM and give science a chance.

Raytheon Paris Air Show 2015 US Rocket Team
Raytheon Paris Air Show 2015
US Rocket Team

Another example of this important partnership is the Northern Virginia Association of Rocketry (NOVAAR), which recently hosted the 2017 National Association of Rocketry Convention in Herndon, Virginia. This experience allowed more than 40 TARC students to engage with rocketry experts like presenters from NASA, Apogee and more. These moments when young innovators are given the chance to learn from professionals like the speakers and NAR mentors who continuously commit their time to encourage the students throughout are the  factors that help them decide: I want to be the first person to walk on Mars, or the scientist who helps that person get to the Red Planet.

TARC Team Westview from Hillsboro, O.R. with their NAR mentor, George Rachor.
TARC Team Westview from Hillsboro, O.R. with their NAR mentor, George Rachor.

These events are valuable opportunities for our students to have another chance to understand why science is worth investing their time in. These partnerships help them perfect a process and meet other student rocketeers who may become the peers they look to on future projects our society will depend on. Ultimately, these experiences are the incubators where they will further develop the confidence lead with curiosity and creativity.

As the National Finals draw closer and more TARC teams send in their progress, setbacks and lessons learned, it becomes more apparent just how real STEM is. These unique efforts from across the country are intricately connected. Each component is a vital piece to the puzzle that is developing these students, their skills and the future of our industry.