Newswise — CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Aug. 29, 2014 -- For its innovative and efficient application of National Instruments products, the Lee College of Engineering’s Rocket Team won a chance to travel to Austin, Texas, to present at the 20th annual NIWeek. Out of 3,250 student projects submitted from 25 countries for the Student Design Competition, National Instruments selected the 49er team as one of three finalists.

NIWeek is National Instruments’ annual international conference that brings together the brightest minds in engineering and science to learn about the latest technology to accelerate productivity for software-defined systems in test, measurement and control.

The Rocket Team is part of the UNC Charlotte 49er Rocketry Club, which for the past four years has produced a senior design project and competed nationally in NASA’s University Student Launch Initiative. Focusing on an innovative idea for solid rocket motor thrust modulation, the 2013-2014 team won the Best Vehicle Design award at the NASA launch competition. The team then went on to win its prestigious selection as one of NI’s Student Design Competition finalists.

“We submitted a white paper to NI for the Student Design Challenge,” said Jerry Dahlberg, the 49er Rocket Team student lead. “The paper was based on the use of NI products in our rocket. We presented data and facts about the overall project and scope.”

The Rocket Team’s use of NI products involved a myRIO microcomputer and LabVIEW programming software to control its rocket’s atmospheric package, ground surveillance equipment and thrust modulation system.

At the conference, the team gave a 20-minute presentation, and displayed the rocket and payload in the exhibit hall. They also were invited to attend seminars and NI training sessions for free.

“We were able to do a lot of networking,” Dahlberg said. “We brought attention to the school and hopefully created some possible partnerships with other universities and companies for future projects. Overall, we learned a lot and had a good time.”

Karen Thorsett-Hill, the team’s faculty mentor and lecturer in mechanical engineering and engineering science, said the team’s selection to NIWeek was a tremendous accomplishment for UNC Charlotte.

“This is one of the most prestigious awards that a College of Engineering student organization has won,” she said. “A lot of the credit goes to Jerry. His leadership played a significant role in this team's success.”

The other student teams and their projects at NIWeek were KAIST from the Republic of Korea and its EureCar self-driving car, and the overall winner ETH Zurich and its Sepios underwater exploration vehicle.

NI has invited the 49er team to travel to Washington, D.C., this fall to display its project at a national aerospace and defense event. The team also earned instrumentation sponsorship from National Instruments for the upcoming year.

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