Featured Project: Alabama Rocket Engineering Systems

The student-led Alabama Rocket Engineering Systems (ARES) plans to shoot rockets off the surface of the Earth. Besides giving university students valuable opportunities to learn about space science and engineering, ARES also conducts STEM outreach programs that educate K-12 kids in their area. ARES has a Kickstarter campaign to support its manufacturing, testing, and outreach activities. Filling Space spoke with Savannah Olmstead, an ARES team member who is an engineering student at the University of Alabama.

What is the ARES project?

Alabama Rocket Engineering Systems (ARES) is a student-led rocketry initiative aiming to reach the Kármán line (100 kilometers above Earth) for the Base 11 Space Challenge by 2021. Through entering this competition, our goal is to take The University of Alabama to the forefront of collegiate rocketry.

In pursuit of this mission, students learn industry skills while pushing boundaries in advanced research. The ARES Initiative ignites a passion for space in the community through fostering STEM education among K-12 students, and provides University of Alabama students the opportunity to network on an interdisciplinary team.

How will fundraising benefit the project?

Fundraising enables us to seek even higher targets and support future students and teams to improve our program and the community at-large. Through Kickstarter, we have raised over $2,500 in a few days, and now we’re aiming to hit $10,000 as our stretch goal in the remaining weeks. Support of this campaign benefits our project in several ways – it helps us:

  • Manufacture the structural components for our methalox engine system and ground support equipment
  • Perform more test launches and support more small teams in The Alabama Rocketry Association
  • Expand our efforts to reach more underrepresented K-12 kids in our effort to boost diversity in the STEM fields

Any support helps us as we build and test our systems and work to improve STEM access for the next generation.

What’s your role in all this and why did you choose to involve yourself in it?

I currently serve as Avionics Hardware Lead and as a business team member for the junior team, Project Polaris. As an electrical engineering student at the university, I’ve always been interested in designing and testing electrical systems, supporting STEM education and recruitment, and working with a team to build something bigger than ourselves.

I applied for the junior team last year because I wanted to grow as an engineering student and learn more about embedded systems design and rocketry. From this experience, I’ve grown so much in my engineering, leadership, and project management skills while forging relationships with some of the best friends I’ve ever had. ARES has given me so many tools for my future and I’m incredibly lucky to be a part of an organization dedicated to achieving exciting, innovative goals.