The University of Iowa

In the news: Undergrads go to 'rocket school'

December 28th, 2018

By Richard C. Lewis, University of Iowa

Josh Larson couldn’t help but be nervous as he examined data being relayed from the rocket as it shot toward space.

Though the 9-foot rocket launched without incident, some of the data he was receiving from the instrument was garbled. Suddenly, a crucial aspect of the experiment—gathering data and interpreting the results—appeared in jeopardy.

“At first glance, the data looked like nonsense,” Larson, a University of Iowa senior from Mount Pleasant, Iowa, says. “We knew we were in for a trying exercise to get something useful.”

Larson and fellow undergraduate Hannah Gulick, a sophomore from Spirit Lake, Iowa, traveled to Norway earlier this month as the first UI students—and the first Americans—to participate in an intensive, four-and-a-half-day international program to design, build, and fly a sounding rocket toward the atmosphere’s outer boundaries.