Soaring high

Case Rocket Team members in New Mexico for Spaceport America Cup 2022.

Soaring high

After placing 2nd at a prestigious international competition, the Case Rocket Team sets its sights on new challenges.

The Spaceport America Cup bills itself as the world’s largest collegiate rocket engineering competition. More than 1,300 students from 95 schools descended on the launch complex in southern New Mexico in June, and they have reason to remember Case Western Reserve.


The Case Rocket Team took 2nd place overall at the giant launch. It also placed first in its category–the 10,000-foot commercial off-the-shelf launch—attaining maybe the biggest twin wins in club history.


“This is huge. I would say it’s for sure the best thing we’ve ever done,” said club president Russell Lubin, a mechanical and aerospace engineering major.


The competition drew schools from 16 nations to Las Cruces, New Mexico, June 21-25. This was the first year Case attended in person. The University of Sydney (Australia) won the first-place trophy, with Case only a few points behind. 


The goal was to launch a rocket to a target altitude—10,000 feet above ground level in Case’s category. After a successful test flight of “Lake Effect,” the team’s 10-foot-tall rocket soared to within 102 feet of the altitude goal in its official launch, an astonishing accuracy that ranked in the top 99th percentile. The parachute blossomed above a flawless recovery.


“Our flight was a perfect success,” Lubin said, crediting sound rocketry fundamentals in the fabrication process and a little bit of luck.


A dozen team members attended the competition and reported an enriching experience.


“I could not be more proud of my team,” said Max Ross, a mechanical and aerospace engineering major and the competition lead for the Case Rocket Team. “Our ability to bring together a group of people, some of whom had never touched a rocket before this year, and win our category our first year was beyond anything I could have imagined.”


Now, a team that typically entered smaller, regional competitions is setting its sights higher.


“Before, our rockets worked but they didn’t win,” Lubin said. “Now that we know we can succeed at this level, we will continue to pursue these competitions.”


The Case Rocket Team is a student organization that teaches members how to build high-powered rockets and helps them gain certification to launch their own. The group is supported by the Case Alumni Foundation and Sears think[box], where team members design and build their rockets.


To support the Case Rocket Team and other student groups, go to

Case student Eabha Abramson climbs a ladder to arm the rocket’s avionics systems before launch.

Lake Effect, a 10-foot-tall high-powered rocket, reached its 10,000 foot goal almost precisely.

“This is huge. I would say it’s for sure the best thing we’ve ever done,”

— Russell Lubin