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U of T Student Innovators Rocket to Glory

Last year the 30­-student team from the Rocketry Division of the University of Toronto Aerospace Team was riding high. Their entry into the world’s largest university rocket engineering competition, held each June in Green River, Utah, won third place in the Advanced Category.

“We’re proud to be the top Canadian team,” says Bennett Leong “Unfortunately, due to a fuel issue, our engine failed to ignite properly. Even so, we got to about 1,000 feet.”

UTAT Rocketry Division’s entry into the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition, Deliverance, was a sleek, nine-foot-long vessel powered by a fuel mixture of nitrous oxide and paraffin. The high-altitude research vehicle was designed to fly 1.4 times the speed of sound, carrying a 10-pound payload to the height of 23,000 feet, about the typical cruising altitude of a commercial aircraft.

While fuel problems hampered performance, the EPDM (ethylene, propylene, diene, monomer) rubber sheets did their job admirably, protecting the aluminum engine from the hot gases combusting during firing. The sheets were held together by a special adhesive donated by Crosslink Technology.

To maintain adhesion during the heat of the blast, the team at Crosslink specially modified the hardener. While most companies offering thermoset solutions do not have the capability or desire to modify their out-of-the-box products, Crosslink has a long history of adapting their solutions to customers’ processing and application needs.

“We also have a strong track record supporting local universities and their development,” says Crosslink President and CEO Paul R. Macko.  “By helping young innovators, like the students at  U of T’s Solar Race Car Team and the University Waterloo’s Chemical Engineering program, we help ourselves stay on the edge of innovation.”

“The binder provided by Crosslink Technology is used to bound together EPDM rubber sheets which make up the liner protecting our engine during firing. I would like to thank you for Crosslink Technology's contributions to UTAT as they directly enabled us to achieve what we have thus far.”

UTAT is an interdisciplinary research and design group at the University of Toronto composed of students who have a passion for aerospace engineering and educational outreach. Its five divisions – Aerial Robotics, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Rocketry, Space Systems and Outreach – have created groundbreaking projects ranging from intelligent quadrotors to suborbital rockets, to small satellites.

Dedicated to innovating and advocating for the Canadian aerospace industry, the Rocketry Division students are keen to turn theory into practice, learning from mishaps like the Deliverance fuel problem. Says third-year engineering science student Thomas Leung: “Rocket science is easy. It’s rocket engineering that’s hard.”

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