Unlike most universities, Virginia Tech has not one but three rocketry design teams. Rocketry at VT and Orbital Launch are open to anyone in Engineering, but Lee Hall plays host to its own exclusive team - inVenTs Rocketry. This is one of only two CEED Affiliated design teams, with the other being Team ASTRA.
inVenTs Rocketry operates out of Lee Hall's own inVenTs Studio, and builds rockets on a scale only slightly smaller than the other mentioned rocketry teams, utilizing solid-fueled I and J motors instead of more complex hybrid or liquid-fueled engines. These rockets are significant - standing around 6 feet tall, and achieving altitudes in excess of 3,000 feet. They design and build their rocket over the course of the year, with the Fall semester focusing more on design and with the Spring semester focusing more on the actual construction.
This effort culminates in NASA's Space Grant Midwest High-Power Rocket Competition, which takes place on May 18-19, in North Branch Minnesota. Much like many other design teams, the competition's goals change every year. This year's competition involves careful control of speed, while last year's involved roll control.
The competition consists of two flights, with the first launch acting as a sort of qualification. This first launch requires all rockets to fly off of the same motor, with scoring based on each team's velocity, acceleration, and maximum altitude as compared to the best team's values for each.
For the second launch, each team can choose their own rocket motor. Scoring here is calculated with the assumption of a team's rocket managing to break the sound barrier - teams that fail to do this all receive the same low score. A successful rocket will go supersonic, but will have a very low total thrust and altitude. This encourages designs that can exceed Mach 1, but only just - they should immediately deploy airbrakes or some other drag system to slow their ascent and reduce their maximum altitude. Smaller engines are also encouraged for this part of the competition.
While the team is no longer recruiting for this semester, students who are returning to live in Lee Hall next year are welcome, as well as any new students coming to Virginia Tech as Freshmen!