Launching into a new semester, bottle style



Team Marie Curie shoots for the starts in hopes to land ahead of the competition.

Julia Fulmer, Co-Editor

To signify the start of a new school year, the physics and engineering department held a water bottle rocket competition on Aug. 26, beginning at the McNair Science Building.

Students considering majoring or those who already declared majors in the department were welcome to attend the third annual “Kickoff Event” to connect with their faculty and peers before the coming semester.

Faculty and staff greeted students as they arrived, distributing t-shirts to each attendee upon signing in. The group soon convened in Chapman Auditorium, where Derek Jokisch, Department Chair of physics and engineering, welcomed the crowd and introduced each faculty member from the department.

Afterward, students separated into 10 teams, each named after a historical scientist, and the competition began. The groups had 30 minutes to construct a water bottle rocket from materials provided by the department, including 2-liter soda bottles, cardboard, and decorative items to add flair to their projects. While functionality was the main goal for the designs, teams had the opportunity to obtain one of four different awards: best looking rocket, farthest horizontal travel distance, most impressive flight and least impressive flight.

Once the timer struck zero, all ten teams gathered on the Smith University Center (UC) lawn to test their concepts. With the help of a water pressure launch assembly, rockets soared through the air as department faculty evaluated their performance.

Jokisch said the main goal of the Kickoff Event was to grow, strengthen and initiate friendships within the department.

“The idea for the event came out of a desire to welcome students back to campus and create opportunities for them to meet each other and the faculty,” Jokisch said. “I was once again impressed by the designs student teams came up with for their rockets given they only had 30 minutes to plan and construct them.”

Caleb Mahoney, junior computational physics and math double major, was part of team Marie Curie, winners of the most impressive flight award. Mahoney said he heard about the event from one of his professors and was intrigued by the mention of a surprise activity along with new department t-shirts.

“How impressive some of the bottle rockets were and how far and high some flew was memorable,” Mahoney said. “that, and winning one of the sections of the competition. I’m very glad that I went, and hope to go next year! It’s a great way to meet new people in similar majors.”

The Kickoff Event for the department has become an annual tradition and provides a positive start for students majoring in physics and engineering. The department offers three majors in mechanical engineering, industrial engineering and physics, with specific tracks for health and computational physics. Students interested in joining the program are encouraged to contact professor Derek Jokisch for further information.