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Blue Origin helps UTEP prepare for lift off

UTEP’s Rocket Team announced their sponsorship by Blue Origin Jan. 3, which was founded by Amazon owner Jeffrey Bezos. Photo courtesy of the UTEP Rocket Team’s Instagram.

UTEP’s very own Sun City Summit Rocket Team announced its new sponsorship by Blue Origin on Jan. 3. Blue Origin was founded by Amazon owner, Jeffrey Bezos. Here is what the Blue Origin sponsorship will bring to the team.  

The rocket team started up in 2021 and is composed of students who are majoring in engineering or have an interest in aerospace engineering who work on building and testing rockets to allow aspiring engineers to gain experience working with advanced technology. 

Jonathan Cucciniello, senior mechanical engineering student, is the team lead for the group.  

The team competed at the 2022 Spaceport America Cup, a nationwide collegiate competition where university students design, build and launch rockets. 

Although not taking home any awards, Sun City Rocket stood out by being one of 100 valley universities to compete. 

“You start about nine months out and you just develop a project and submit an entry and based off those designs and plans they select you to compete,” Cucciniello said. “We took a lot of lessons learned back and those are things we (like myself) and other leaders on the team have incorporated throughout the year so we don’t make the same mistakes we did last year. It may not have been the ideal plan but the experience was more beneficial being a learning experience.” 

The new sponsorship has provided the team with new opportunities such as projects and high-quality mentorship. In addition to that, Blue Origin has provided a monetary prize to the rocket team.  

“(With) those opportunities that they provide, you could go anywhere with things and it’s something the other teams don’t have per se,” Cucciniello said.  

 According to the Blue Origins’ website,  it states the mission is to “Increase access to space through reusable rockets.”   

The company says it is working today to create that future by developing reusable launch vehicles in-space systems that are safe, low cost and serve the needs of all civil, commercial and defense customers.  

Jesus Leon, a junior mechanical engineering major at UTEP, is a member of the rocket team. At the time, he was working on his rocket in hopes of earning his level-one certification on the team.  

“(It’s) really fun because you get to (get) hands-on experience, and you get to think about (and) like wonder when you’re building it. How does certain stuff get into place and how everything works together,” Leon said. 

“Being able to get that connection with people from Blue Origin who are (a) company who a lot of the people from El Paso work (with) is a great opportunity.” 

As for future projects, the team and Blue Origin have a few coming up including “Daedalus” which is exploring farther out in areas where rocketry has not been discovered. 

According to Cucciniello a part of the sponsorship received, would be going to getting in touch with actual technical advisors that would be coming by the end of the month.  

Anyone interested in joining does not need to be an engineering student at UTEP but should be interested and passionate about Aerospace. 

To get in contact with the Sun City Rocket Team email them at [email protected]. 

Avery Escamilla-Wendell is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Avery Escamilla-Wendell
Avery Escamilla-Wendell, Arts & Culture Editor
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Blue Origin helps UTEP prepare for lift off