Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings



Conference Name

2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana, June 26, 2016


This paper describes a student team project using model rockets and engines to learn engineering solution methods for determining the apogee of model rocket when the drag effect is considered explicitly instead of estimating its effect later. Model rocketry is a powerful tool for instructors who wish to incorporate science, engineering, and mathematics into a fun, engaging, and challenging activity for the students. The apogee can be determined using a number of distinct methods: trigonometry, onboard altimeters, analytical calculations, and simulation. This paper emphasizes numerical analytical solution using spreadsheet programming instead of a full analytical solution that requires higher mathematics. Students got a practical introduction to many engineering concepts they will later study. These concepts include thrust, impulse, drag, payload, ascent and descent (with and without a parachute) times, speed, and acceleration. The importance of the future courses in physics was also emphasized. These activities constitute one of two team projects of 1.5 credit portion of a two-credit course in exploration of engineering and technology. Students learn many skills they need later in their studies and professional practice. Teamwork is a skill that they acquired as they organized into a group with many specialized responsibilities for the purpose of launching their rockets, collecting data to be processed and, writing a report. Students also learned or improved spreadsheet skills while performing data entry and necessary mathematical calculations.


© (2016) American Society for Engineering Education, ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, (New Orleans, Louisiana, June 26, 2016).

Posted with the permission of the publisher.

Original Publication Citation

Sarper, H., Landman, D., & Vahala, L. (2016, June). First-year project experience in aerospace: Apogee determination of model rockets with explicit consideration of drag effect. Paper presented at the 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana.