Rockets, robots, radiators — and more


Clockwise, from back right, Tiffany Werckmann (St. Louis, senior in computer science and computer engineering, Engineers Without Borders), Jonathan Sanders (Webb City, Mo., junior in mechanical and aerospace engineering, Human-Powered Vehicle), Andi Schumann (St. Louis, senior in civil and architectural engineering, Concrete Canoe), Jacob Sinclair (Savannah, Mo., junior in aerospace engineering, Advanced Aero Vehicle Group), and Dashiell Moore (Rolla, Mo., senior in engineering management, Human-Powered Vehicle). Photo by Bob Phelan

Last year, 10 teams participated as official members of the Student Design and Experiential Learning Center at Missouri S&T. More teams are being selectively added. Here are some fast facts:

Advanced Aero Vehicle Group

    • In addition to large radio-controlled model airplanes, AAVG also designs and builds high-powered rockets (watch video – wait until 33-second mark for launch).
  • The FAA has to be notified before these rockets can be launched.

Baja Team

  • One year, back in the UMR days, the team was required to build a vehicle that could go through water, kinda like a boat, in addition to handling rugged terrestrial landscapes. You can see it on You Tube.
  • The team is scheduled for competitions in Oregon, Wisconsin and Alabama this spring.

Concrete Canoe Team

  • The canoe must pass a swamp test each year; it is submerged in water and, hopefully, floats back to the surface.
  • Normal concrete used in a construction project weighs about 150 pounds per cubic foot. For these canoes, lighter aggregate mixtures of concrete are used.
  • Paddlers in competitions often get wet.

Engineers Without Borders

  • S&T has one of the largest student EWB chapters in the U.S.
  • S&T helped start the EWB chapter at the University of Kansas.
  • S&T’s EWB students have traveled to Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras.
  • More than 330 students have traveled to these countries so far.

Formula Car Team

  • In addition to spring events, the team is competing in Germany this summer.
  • The 2002 vehicle was sold on eBay.
  • The Indy-style cars are capable of going from 0-to-60 mph in approximately 3 seconds.
  • Watch video.

Human-Powered Vehicle Team

  • The team won six straight championships.
  • In 2007, former team member Jerrod Bouchard, who received bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering and engineering management from S&T in 2008, became the second-fastest college student to ever be propelled by his own power (on a long stretch of road in the high desert of Nevada).
  • Bouchard was encased in what has become known as the bullet bike, which was engineered by S&T students.

Robotics Team

  • Often overheard at robotics competitions: “Well, the thing worked last night.”
  • The team makes robots capable of autonomously navigating an obstacle course.
  • Miriah Anderson, a member of the team, has already landed a job with National Instruments in Austin, Texas, when she graduates.

Solar Car Team

  • The team has won two national championships in solar car racing.
  • Solar Miner VI traveled from Dallas to Calgary on zero gallons of gas.
  • Every solar car has been emblazoned with the No. 42 – which, if you believe Douglas Adams, is “the answer to everything.”

Solar House Team

  • S&T has a Solar Village on campus property.
  • Dan Oerther, the John and Susan Mathes Chair of Environmental Engineering, has been living in one of the other houses with his family.
  • During the summer S&T sells power generated from the village back to the utility company.

Steel Bridge

  • Cautionary tale: during one past competition, another team was putting the final piece of its bridge in place, using a rubber mallet, when the structure collapsed.
  • At competitions, teams are judged on how efficiently they can construct their bridge.
  • The bridges are approximately 1/10th the size of a real bridge.

New teams

  • The Hydrogen Design Solutions (H2) and Internationally Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) teams are the latest to join the center.
  • H2 studies challenges facing the development of hydrogen technology.
  • iGEM designs synthetic biological systems that can operate in living cells. Their latest project used segments of DNA embedded in bacteria to detect glucose.


NOTE: For a list of 2112 competition dates, go here.

ALSO: More coverage of the design teams can be found in the current issue of Missouri S&T Magazine.


  1. Missouri S&T provides opportunities for engineering students to learn hands-on skills through these design competitions. Its an investment on the part of S&T that prepares our students to excel in graduate school and the workplace. Not only do students learn technical skills, but they learn valuable lessons in teamwork, communication, and the ‘softer skills’ of engineering that are difficult to teach in the classroom. Way to go S&T!

  2. henry georgy says

    I want to join the concrete canoe team because i like to get wet when im paddling.

  3. Great job Missouri S&T!!! Great description of the parts of the Student Design and Experimental Learning Center. It’s great to see students have such an opportunity to develop and create machines while also learning. For good outcomes, they need good supplies, like radiators. We are one of the many companies that know to provide top of the line supplies so as to facilitate opportunities like these.