CHS graduate’s team places 2nd in international aeronautics competition, top among U.S. entries

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Nicholas Ruse (left) pictured with the trophy for second place from the American Astronautical Society’s 2024 CanSat Competition. (Photo courtesy of Joseph Ruse)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Nicholas Ruse, 19, a 2023 Cullman High School graduate studying electrical engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, helped his team win out over all other U.S. entries to take second place honors in the world at the American Astronautical Society’s 2024 CanSat Competition, a contest to see if engineers can design and launch an egg to over 2,000 feet and safely return it to Earth.

Team Shockwave, one of three teams from UAH, produced a vehicle that was entirely student designed and made, with a camera that always focused at the horizon, parachute, sensors for collecting atmospheric data and, most importantly, an egg that would not crack, to simulate a passenger inside the payload. 

In all, 82 teams from the U.S., Argentina, Azerbaijan, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Scotland, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey and more applied to participate at CanSat. Shockwave was one of 31 that made the cut to take part in pre-and post-flight activities in Staunton, Virginia, and launches in the farmland of Monterey, Virginia.  

It takes far more than model rocketry to draw such a field.  The event, sponsored by such organizations as NASA, Lockheed-Martin and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, provides a platform for students to gain hands-on experience in aerospace engineering, fostering skills in teamwork, problem-solving and technical innovation. 

For Ruse and his team, the victory is not just a testament to their hard work but also a stepping stone toward future endeavors in the aerospace industry. As they celebrated their victory, they were already looking ahead to future projects, inspired by their success and possibilities that lie ahead in their academic and professional careers – including internships with Leidos, a Fortune 500 defense and engineering company with offices in Huntsville. 

When asked about what contributed most to his success, Ruse said, “If you have a team that works together, that’s always what pulls through in the end.” 

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