AUSTIN, Texas — Rocketry Club president and Harmony School of Endeavor senior, Ethan Chandra, says his two TARK teams are ready for lift-off.

“We’ve been working nonstop every day, every week,” Chandra said. “It’s a culmination of our efforts. Finally, we’re able to hit that mark and I think that’s pretty cool.” 

The duo is part of 100 national finalists heading just outside the nation’s capital to take part in the American Rocketry Challenge. Pride, $100,000 in prizes, a NASA workshop and a trip to London for the international finals are all on the line. 

“We’re just excited to be there and basically come back for revenge, make it into the top 10,” Chandra said. “The perfect time is between 41-44 seconds and 835 feet.” 

It’s an amazing accomplishment and, for many of these students, a chance to reach for the stars. A Pew Research Center study last year shows only one-third of minority groups make up STEM related jobs. Therefore, programs like these offer the hands-on opportunities Harmony School’s Amy Chankin says are vital to increasing gender, racial and ethnic diversity in this workspace.

Harmony School Assistant Area Superintendent of Programs says after school programs such as the Rocketry Club help students prepare for careers in STEM related fields. (Spectrum News 1)

“They know that this is the future and our job force is moving in that direction,” Chankin said. “They want to be able to experience it young and apply it in the future.”

Ethan is headed to UT Austin next year and wants to go into the computer science field. One of many skill sets this group gets to fine tune here as they ignite very promising futures.

“We’re a team, we work through this together, we built rockets, we went through failures,” Chandra said. “In the end we built a rocket that can reach that height in the air and it’s a feeling of elation.”

Rocketry Club President and Harmony School of Endeavor senior, Ethan Chandra, says the the teams are looking to finish in the top 10 this year. (Spectrum News 1)

Supporters of the club can chip in to help the team during their journey.