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Embry-Riddle Rocket Engineers Win International Competition for Second Year

Daytona Beach, FL, June 29, 2011

Rocket Engineering Competition

Members of Embry-Riddle’s winning rocket team pose with their 10-foot Pathfinder III rocket in the Utah desert after the competition. From left to right: Dustin Koehler, Anthony Astrologo, Alex Manasseh, Ben Wallace, faculty adviser Eric Perrell, Kaysha White, and Matthew Ellengold.

A student team from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University won first place at the sixth annual Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition with the launch of their rocket Pathfinder III, which flew to 10,310 feet. The event was hosted by the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association from June 16-18 in Green River, Utah, and drew teams from nine universities in the United States, Canada, and Brazil.

Students in Embry-Riddle’s Future Space Explorers and Developers Society engineered Pathfinder III, and students in the Engineering Design Club created the rocket’s electronic inertial monitoring system, global positioning system, and telemetry downlink. Last year, in their rookie entry, the same Embry-Riddle team won the fifth engineering competition with their Pathfinder II heavy rocket.

For the competition, students were to design, build, and launch a rocket carrying a 10-pound payload to an altitude of 10,000 feet above ground level. The rocket was to be recovered intact and reusable. A panel of industry experts judged the teams on their technical reports and presentations, professionalism in launch operations, and rocket performance. This year’s competition was sponsored by SpaceX, Sinclair Interplanetary, and Planetary Systems Corp.

Team leader Matthew Ellengold, a senior in aerospace engineering, said, “I could not be prouder of the entire Pathfinder III project team for their dedication and ingenuity. It’s a privilege to work with such individuals.” He also expressed his gratitude to the team’s sponsors, Northrop Grumman and Vectorply Corp.

Eric Perrell, an associate professor in aerospace engineering who advised the team, said, “These students do amazing work on their own initiative. I was impressed by the thoroughness of their program planning, analyses, and tests, and their adherence to safety protocols.”

Team members, their majors, and hometowns:

Anthony Astrologo, Aerospace Studies, Pinckney, Mich.

Matthew Ellengold, Aerospace Engineering, Voorhees, N.J.

Dustin Koehler, Aerospace Engineering, Hanover, Kan.

Alex Manasseh, Engineering Physics, Crofton, Md.

Geoffrey Pile, Aerospace Studies, Herndon, Va.

James Reiner, Aerospace Engineering, Trout Run, Pa.

Ben Wallace, Engineering Physics, Suwanee, Ga.

Kaysha White, Aviation Maintenance Science, Port Saint Lucie, Fla.

Amy Williams, Engineering Physics, Houston, Texas

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world's largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 70 baccalaureate, master's and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts and Sciences, Aviation, Business and Engineering. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., and through the Worldwide Campus with more than 150 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The university is a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and, and find expert videos at