Who We Are
The Alabama Rocket Engineering Systems Initiative, or ARES, is a student-led program with the goal of taking The University of Alabama to the forefront of collegiate rocketry. In pursuit of this mission, students learn industry skills while pushing boundaries in advanced research. The ARES Initiative ignites a passion for space in the community, and provides University of Alabama students the opportunity to network on an interdisciplinary team.
The team has entered the Base 11 Space Challenge, a three year competition promising $1 million to the first university team to launch a liquid-fueled, single-stage rocket to 100 km. With 49 students split between two interdisciplinary teams, we are in the preliminary design phase to launch our vehicle to the Kármán line by 2021.
Each year, our liquids and solids teams seek to reach new heights by choosing different areas of focus for their rockets. This year, our liquids team is concentrating exclusively on developing a methalox liquid rocket engine for the Base 11 Space Challenge, while our solids team is incorporating stage separation to reach an altitude of 100,000 feet.
Igniting Interest in STEM
In addition to sponsoring technical workshops to better our campus community, we work to foster STEM interest in elementary, middle, and high school students in Tuscaloosa and the surrounding areas. Each year, our outreach program spans 12 local schools, reaching more than 5,000 students.
We partner with another organization on campus to host the Tuscaloosa Rocketry Challenge, where middle school students throughout Tuscaloosa County are introduced to rockets, space history and the scientific method. The week culminates in a water bottle rocket competition. The top eight teams from each school are invited to The University of Alabama's campus for the championship.
Outside of TRC, we host rocket breakout sessions for Girl Scout troops who visit campus for Women in STEM Day. We also participate in the the annual Worlds of Work Career Expo, speaking to thousands of eighth grade and high school students from across West Alabama about the possibility of achieving exciting careers in the space industry.
Our Anticipated Trajectory
The ARES Initiative has grown in size every year since its inception. We are working toward our ultimate goal of reaching the Kármán line through progressive improvement with knowledge transfer and member recruitment. In 2015, the organization’s first year, the program consisted of nine students. In the 2018-2019 academic year, we have grown to 49 members across two design teams. Members hail from almost all engineering majors and backgrounds. In 2017 and 2018, ARES successfully launched to 30,000 feet on student researched and designed solid propulsion systems at the Interscholastic Rocket Engineering Competition Spaceport America Cup in New Mexico. With the team's entry in the Base 11 Space Challenge, development has begun on liquid-fueled propulsion systems.
Risks and challenges
Common risks for our project include potential failures in system components, budgeting issues as a university team, and the size of our audience. We work to combat these through testing and extensive design reviews, an active business team dedicated to reaching out to corporate sponsors, and outreach to the wider Tuscaloosa community and on social media.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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