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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI engineering students to launch first water rocket contest

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 30, 1999 -- The University of Rhode Island student section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) will hold its first Water Rocket Contest on the Kingston Campus Quadrangle, Tuesday May 4 at 1:30 p.m.

Engineering students will be charging two-liter soda bottles with water and then sending them skyward. The rockets will come down gently with the aid of parachutes. Since soda bottles have few aerodynamic features, the engineering students will be developing their own designs to enhance flight.

"We will be ending the school year with a blast, joked Angelo Di Biasio, chairman of the URI ASME chapter, a senior mechanical engineering student and resident of Johnston.

Di Biasio and Curtis Carlsten, vice chairman of the URI chapter, attended an ASME Regional Conference last fall in Portsmouth, R.I. and attended a water rocket contest there. They thought such an event at URI would encourage friendly competition among the engineering departments and prompt teamwork among the students.

"This is just applying basic physics that everyone in engineering already knows, said Carlsten, a junior mechanical engineering student from East Providence. It,s not like building a complex computer or robot. There are going to be some great designs.

"I have come upon some groups talking quietly about their designs and others have sworn me to secrecy about their projects, he said.

The URI ASME Student Section has done all the work organizing the event, lining up sponsors and obtaining funding for prizes. First prize is $50 cash, second is $35 and third is $25.

The event is being sponsored by Brown & Sharpe, Toray Plastics, Texas Instruments, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and URI,s Department of Mechanical Engineering. Pepsi is supplying 60 bottles for the competition.

Di Biasio and Carlsten will be conducting all launches in a 60-foot-diameter area that will be cordoned off from the public.

Each two-member team or single contestant will design a two-liter soda bottle rocket to achieve maximum time aloft. The winning rocket will have the greatest recorded time, from launch until touchdown. The two students say that two-liter bottles, without design changes and additions, will tumble around, and fail to achieve high altitudes. With some fins and a nose cone, amazing altitudes can be reached.

"Contestants want to minimize drag going up and maximize drag coming down, said Carlsten. "They need the best-designed parachute to catch the most amount of air.

For Further Information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116

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Copyright 1999
University of Rhode Island
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