For 7 straight years, 49er Rocketry Team claims a spot on the winners’ podium

Categories: General News

UNC Charlotte’s 49er Rocketry Team again finished among the top winners, placing third overall in the 2024 NASA Student Launch Competition.  They were joined on the awards platform by Iowa State University in second place and the University of Notre Dame in first place. Seventy teams from 24 states plus Puerto Rico participated.

3rd place – Overall

2nd place – Reusable Launch Vehicle
Awards the most creative, innovative and safety-conscious overall rocket design

2nd  place STEM Engagement Award
Presented to the team that best demonstrated multiple and diverse ways to engage the community, industry and students in rocketry science and engineering

3rd place Safety Award
Recognizes the team that most successfully maximized safety and science value in its design

Gracie Judy, the Team Lead for 2023-24 49ers Rocketry, like all members of the team, holds a strong passion for this area of study. “Ever since I was a little girl,” said Judy, “I  always knew I wanted to pursue a career in aerospace; I just wasn’t sure where I would fit best.” After high school, Judy became part of the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Program before transferring to UNC Charlotte. “I immediately became a member of the 49er Rocketry Club, which helped me figure out that high power rocketry was something I was really passionate about.”

49er Rocketry Team Members:

Team Lead: Gracie Judy, Mechanical Engineering
Payload Team Lead: Anthony Konstantinidi, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Vehicle Team Lead: William Vitola, Mechanical Engineering and Physics
Recovery Officer: Andrew McPartland, Mechanical Engineering
Safety Officer: Chase Jackson, Computer Engineering
Kathleen Arrington, Computer Engineering
Austin Clavijo, Mechanical Engineering Technology
Elliot Kohut, Mechanical Engineering
Amanda Solorio, Mechanical Engineering
Jorge Young, Mechanical Engineering

Winners were announced virtually June 7, following the competition, which took place in April at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. 

Prior year overall awards include:

2023: 2nd place
2022: 1st place
2021: 1st place
2020: 2nd place
2019: 2nd place
2018: 2nd place

Each year, NASA challenges middle school, high school, college and university students from across the United States to design, build and launch a high-powered amateur rocket, fly it to an altitude between 4,000 and 6,000 feet and make a successful landing. 

The challenge also serves as a nine-month capstone project for the students to solve real-world problems using electrical, computer, mechanical, systems and civil engineering technologies.

While the team members enjoy the competition itself, the 49ers Rocketry Team also provides them higher impact benefits, like skill building and career direction. “After graduation, I plan to pursue a career in hypersonic system performance,” said Judy. “Being a part of the 49er Rocketry Team has opened many doors for me. I am forever grateful for the opportunities presented to me and the people I have met by being a part of this fantastic team.”

Learn more at 49er Rocketry Team social media.

49er Rocketry Team
49er Rocketry team member prepares rocket for launch
49er Rocketry Team members carry rocket to launch site
49er Rocketry team members prepare rocket for launch