Rocket woman

Madeline Barto in Sears think[box] in October 2021.

Rocket woman

Alumni helped Madeline Barto soar high as president of the Case Rocket Team.

When she set out to design and build her own high-power rocket, Madeline Barto faced one mighty obstacle. The costs of the motors and other supplies would exceed $1,000, far more than the third-year student could afford.


Fortunately for Barto, the Case Alumni Association had anticipated her dilemma. The CAA works with Sears think[box] to offer modest grants from a Student Project Fund now in its second full year. This year, dozens of students are expected tap a fund that provides up to $2,500 for the materials and parts needed to undertake a special project at the campus innovation center.


Those helped by a CAA contribution become think[box] Fellows. Typically, they are science and engineering students pursuing a startup or a passion.


With a $1,000 grant, Barto designed and built a high-power rocket with innovative electronics and successfully launched it last spring. When her five-foot-tall rocket parachuted gently back to earth from 3,500 feet, she achieved Level II certification from the National Association of Rocketry. But the project gave her more than a certificate.


“The big thing I got out of this was doing everything myself,” said Barto, who is majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering while serving as president of the Case Rocket Team. “The machining, all the wiring, was all done by me, right here in think[box].”


The experience made her a more confident engineer, she said, one ready for the next challenge.


“Our heartfelt thanks goes out to each of the generous donors without whom the student project fund would be just an idea,” said Ian Charnas, Director of Innovation and Technology at Sears think[box]. “Because of their gift, a final obstacle many students had faced has been alleviated, leading to the creation of startup companies and to crucial hands-on learning experiences.” 


To support the Student Project Fund through the CAA, please contact Janna Greer at



Barto rocket launch

Barto rocket launch