Model Rockets and Composite Materials: Design, Build, Launch

By Amber Genau

Materials Science and Engineering, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL

Published on


Students with rockets

Students will gain experience with polymer matrix fiber composites, composite production, and the tradeoffs inherent in the engineering design process by designing, building and launching their own model rocket. Composite materials are created via hand layup and vacuum assisted resin transfer (VARTM). For the instructor, a starting familiarity with VARTM is helpful. A starting familiarity with model rockets is helpful but (I promise) not necessary. The project is best done in groups of 3-4 students and can be structured as a competition.

This resource contains multiple documents for download. The Download link above will download a bundle of all documents as a zip archive file. To view a list of all documents click on the Supporting Docs tab.

Included in this package:

  • Powerpoint slides: Introduction to Composite Materials, Introduction to Rocketry and Project Description
  • Excel spreadsheet: rocket height and cost calculations
  • Handouts: team rocket design worksheet, rocket assembly instructions
  • SolidWorks instructions: step-by-step guide to creating a nose cone
  • Rocket height recording and judging sheet


Dr. Amber Genau is a faculty member in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  She has been organizing the UAB Materials Camp for high school students since 2011.

Sponsored by

Support for Materials Camp at UAB comes from NSF CAREER #1554856 and the ASM Materials Education Foundation.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Amber Genau (2021), "Model Rockets and Composite Materials: Design, Build, Launch,"

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