Hands down, by far, without a doubt, the best design organization, well, ever. The USC Rocket Propulsion Laboratory (RPL) is an organization completely student-run and operated, without lead or much guidance from professors or faculty. It is a student organization that designs, fabricates, and tests rocket vehicles with the goal of becoming the first student organization to launch a vehicle into space. The first—not an amateur competition where there is a new winner each year. RPL would become the first in the world to launch a student-made rocket into space. That is something incredible in itself. RPL brings together some of the brightest minds in computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, etc. with a common interest in building a 10-14 foot rocket capable of going 75,000+ feet! To put this into perspective, the commercial airplane you came here on travels at 30,000 feet!
In RPL students are given the opportunity to have hands-on machining experience with composites and metals needed for the rocket. These high performance vehicles have been projected to reach a maximum of Mach 6, with the most recent, Texas Two Step vehicle generating over a 1000 lbs of thrust. I love the fact that I can work with carbon fiber, fiberglass, Kevlar, steel, aluminum etc., all materials used in industry and in similar ways. Because all the individual parts are manufactured in-house, we have the ability to research and implement new processes and features into our vehicles. For launches and static fires, we utilize the Mojave Testing Facility owned by the Reaction Research Society: usually a weekend trip full of bonfires, bonding, and fun! When we are not drafting, simulating, programming, or machining, the RPL takes tours of industry leaders such as Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and other companies. Whether you are an aerospace or astronautical engineering major or just have a fascination with space, USC Rocket Propulsion Lab is an excellent way to learn and have fun at the same time. I look forward to seeing you in lab! Flight On!