Students’ First Space Rocket Project Successfully Launched at UTC Leeds - UTC Leeds

2nd December 2017

UTC Leeds students explored space technology in an innovative rocket-inspired educational event that launched on 27th November, supported by leading scientists.

Rockets Week at UTC Leeds brought space, technology and engineering experts together for a series of student talks and hands-on workshops. Students explored the dark side of the universe and how to launch a rocket into space, and took part in propulsion, space vehicle design and Mars Rover workshops.
Dewsbury-born Tim Gregory, from BBC Two’s Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?, spoke to students about his experience of taking part in the television programme, his current PhD research on the solar system, and his career ambitions.
Tim, who was the first person in his family to go to university, said: “It’s been fantastic meeting UTC Leeds students. It’s always a privilege for me to meet young people and spark their interest in science. It’s so important they are aware of all the opportunities out there in the world. I also love coming back home. I am so proud to be from Yorkshire.” He added: “Our civilisation is built on science, maths and technology, it’s the reason why we have antibiotics, electricity and clean water on tap. Those technical and problem solving skills are needed for the careers of the future including jobs that don’t yet exist. That’s why I find science so cool and interesting. It’s great that UTC Leeds has a strong focus on technical, hands-on learning as well as academic subjects.”
Space exploration, and science, technology, engineering and maths experts from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), International Space University (ISU), Association of Retired European Space Agency Staff (ARES), and CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, took part in the week. Academic experts from Durham, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Sheffield and York universities were also involved.
Steve Bennett, Chief Executive, Starchaser Industries, provided demonstrations on the physics of space flight and the chemistry of rocket propellants. His eight-metre rocket, called Skybolt 2, was parked in the UTC Leeds car park. Earlier this year, the rocket flew to an altitude of 4,000 feet with science experiments on board. Steve, who has space tourism ambitions and was inspired to get into space travel when he was five-years-old after watching the first Moon landings, said: “The UK needs more scientists and engineers and there’s a lot of career opportunities in the space industry. Many young people don’t understand what engineering actually involves, and the exciting careers available. Events like this aim to encourage and inspire the next generation, and raise their aspirations.”
Students also learnt about the Cubes in Space programme from its founder Amber Agee-Dehart, President of idoodlelearning, and helped to design an experiment to fly on a NASA rocket mission in June 2018. They also designed and launched paper rockets to understand how the launch angle and mass that a rocket carries affects the height and distance that it can travel.
UTC Leeds student Jasmine has ambitions to become an astrophysicist. She said: “It’s been a dream come true seeing a real rocket and meeting space experts. That’s why I enjoy the technical learning at UTC Leeds, because it’s different to other schools.” UTC Leeds student Leo added: “It’s been an amazing opportunity hearing from all of the speakers including NASA. Studying at UTC Leeds gives you a head start for your career because you feel more prepared and get to work with interesting industry experts.” Mark Kennedy, Principal, said: “We are thrilled that so many world-renowned experts have shared their knowledge with us to inspire the next generation of engineers. Our students develop cutting edge technical skills because employers and industry experts work with them as part of the curriculum preparing them for exciting careers. This initiative is testament to that.”
Rockets Week is part of a broader UTC Leeds inspired programme called Ingenuity and Beyond, which offers a modern take on education’s traditional three Rs – reading, writing and arithmetic. Further events celebrating robots and racing are planned for 2018. Visit
Parent and local businesswoman Jacky Moss is the driving force behind the event and helped to create and organise it for the UTC. Jacky said: “As both a parent of a Year 12 student and a huge advocate of all things STEM, it made sense to put together a programme for our students here at UTC Leeds that would educate, motivate and inspire them.” She added: “I believe the combination of fun activities, full-on science and the plethora of outreach and curricula activities we’ve sourced has done just that. It’s so important for the students to believe in themselves, understand their own capabilities and go one step further to be the best that they can be by taking advantage of as many of the options we can offer as possible. We’re looking forward to their feedback on this event and planning the next in the series.”
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