Washington Students Take Home Gold in World’s Largest Rocket Contest

Press Release From: Aerospace Industries Association
Posted: Monday, May 16, 2016

The Space Potatoes rocketry team from Bellevue, Washington, bested 100 of the top student rocketry teams in the country to claim first place at the 2016 Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) National Finals.

The five-student team outscored nearly 5,000 students on 789 teams that participated in this year’s competition from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Space Potatoes, comprised of Mikaela Ikeda (12), Larry Jing (13), Karl Deerkop (14), Srivatshan (Sri) Sakthinarayanan (13) and Stephanie Han (13), were awarded more than $20,000 in scholarships and funds for their school.

“These students demonstrated incredible ingenuity and a passion for aerospace and STEM education,” said David F. Melcher, President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association. “We are proud of their accomplishments and wish them luck on their quest for the international title!”

Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association and the National Association of Rocketry, TARC models the aerospace and defense industry’s design, engineering and testing processes by requiring students to build a rocket that flies to exactly 850 feet and safely returns a payload of two raw eggs within 44-46 seconds. At the National Finals, students were required to adjust their rockets ‘on the fly’ to hit new flight/duration parameters for a second round of launches.

Aiming for a perfect score of zero, the Space Potatoes achieved an impressive combined score of 13.64, a mark that surpassed that of the 2015 world champion team. In July, they will travel to London – courtesy of The Raytheon Company – to represent the United States at the International Rocketry Challenge, where they will compete against teams from the United Kingdom, France and Japan.

"Rocketry competitions allow students to practice science, technology, engineering and math while testing the fundamental components of team building and collaboration," said Thomas A. Kennedy, Raytheon Chairman and CEO. "As technologists and engineers on a rocketry team, these students have set a foundation that will lead them to exciting and challenging professional opportunities."

TARC is sponsored by The Raytheon Company, along with Lockheed Martin Corporation, Thales USA and 20 industry sponsors. For more information, visit

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