UW-Sheboygan Rock On team at NASA competition

Results to be presented at Wisconsin Space Conference


THE UW-SHEBOYGAN Rock On team (left to right) Kristine Thompson, Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium Program Manager; Ryan Kisiolek, UW-Sheboygan student; Dr. William Dirienzo, UW-Sheboygan Astronomy Professor works on assembling and soldering parts of rocket payload. – Submitted photos THE UW-SHEBOYGAN Rock On team (left to right) Kristine Thompson, Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium Program Manager; Ryan Kisiolek, UW-Sheboygan student; Dr. William Dirienzo, UW-Sheboygan Astronomy Professor works on assembling and soldering parts of rocket payload. – Submitted photos Sheboygan — After receiving a scholarship from the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium earlier this year, The University of Wisconsin Sheboygan’s “Rock On” team traveled to Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia last month to participate in a week-long rocket building project. Astronomy Professor William Drienzo, along with undergraduate student Ryan Kisiolek and Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium program manager Kristine Thompson, participated in the hands-on learning experience of building and programming a payload for a sounding rocket. Next month, Kisiolek will present the UW-Sheboygan team’s results at the annual Wisconsin Space Conference being held at The University of Wisconsin Superior on August 11.

The week-long rocket build program is part of the NASA Competition Program. Almost 70 teams from colleges across the United States came together at the former naval base to build a rocket payload from a box of parts in three days. After extensive testing, the rocket was successfully launched and recovered. Due to inclement weather, the launch took place on the last day, rather than the sixth day as planned. Each 3-member team was able to include a few personal mementos in a small clear box attached to the board. The UW-Sheboygan team included a few commemorative stamps, a UW-Sheboygan keychain, and business cards. The program also included a tour of the base, briefings on sounding rocket environments, as well as learning about additional flight opportunities for future experiments.

Dr. William Dirienzo, who teaches astronomy as well as calculus-based physics classes at UW-Sheboygan, would like to send three students to the 2017 competition. “The cost is a hindrance,” he admitted, but the experience of building and launching a rocket is “far cheaper than you could do on your own.” The study of rockets is fairly new to Professor Dirienzo. After completing his undergraduate degree at UW-Madison, his research for his Ph.D. at the University of Virginia was mainly related to star formation, which utilized data obtained from satellites. However, after participating in the rocket project, Dr. Dirienzo is already contemplating a future advanced “RockSatX” project in which a rocket would be developed and programmed to learn more about star formation.

For Ryan Kisiolek, a nontraditional age student who spent 12 years in contracting prior to enrolling at UW-Sheboygan, the Rock-On program was “both inspirational and empowering.” He explained that “everyone is encouraged to take part in every step of the process possible. Thoughts of ‘I don’t think I can do this’ quickly faded to feelings of ‘what can I do next!’” Ryan, who plans to major in microbiology with a chemistry minor, found the experience a “beautiful chance to get your hands dirty, make mistakes, fix them, learn from them, and move forward.” As Student Government President, Ryan’s goal is to obtain funding that would make the Rock On program “a permanent and accessible opportunity for future class members.” Kisiolek called the learning experience “priceless” and believes it would be a “great partner to the engineering program at UW-Sheboygan.”

For more information about the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, visit: https://spacegrant.carthage.edu.

Video and photos from the Rock On program are available online at: http://spacegrant. colorado.edu/national-programs/ rockon-2016-home.


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