EP. 2: Rocket woman​


Rocket woman

The Case Rocket Team has been making an impression at national competitions with rockets that soar high, land softly and deliver creative payloads. That means team members have been achieving in the maker space, where the competition rockets come together. And that’s why we were excited to meet with Sarah Ryan, the president of the Case Rocket Team.

Sarah is a senior pursuing a double major in mechanical and aerospace engineering and a minor in astronomy. She began on the rocket team her freshman year working on rocket payloads, rose to become treasurer and design lead and now leads one of the most technically ambitious clubs at the Case School of Engineering.

For Sarah, building award-winning rockets helps to fulfill a childhood dream. “Aerospace engineering has been a goal of mine for a very long time,” she said. “When I was really young, I started wanting to be an astronaut.”

Under her leadership, the team is taking on bigger challenges. Normally, the team builds a rocket required to reach 1,000 feet in altitude for the Battle of the Rockets competition in Culpeper, Virginia. This year, the team will be aiming for 10,000 feet, a ten-fold increase, for the Friends of Amateur Rocketry 1030 competition near Mojave, California.

With higher altitudes comes higher thrust and new challenges. The students need to worry about vibrations. Every piece of the rocket must be reinforced to deal with the higher forces. They are also working to build a lighter rocket entirely from fiberglass, which requires new methods of fastening and machining.

The club commands a busy workshop on the fifth floor of Sears think[box]. That’s where we met with Sarah. She talked about the designing and tooling that goes into a hot rocket, and the strategies the team uses to involve everyone in the innovation and handiwork.