HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Students with The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s (UAH) Space Hardware Club (SHC) recently won 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in an international “CanSat” competition in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Three CanSat teams, comprised of mostly freshman and sophomore students, participated in the annual student design-build-launch competition that included teams from universities and colleges. The teams were tasked with building a space-capable CanSat with a payload launched from a rocket and dropped with a parachute.

UAH’s Team Spaceshot won 1st in the nation, while Team Star Saber finished 2nd and Team Highwire won 3rd. In the overall competition, Team Spaceshot took 8th, while Team Star Saber was 13th and Team Highwire finished 16th.

Jim Steele with UAH says it was the first CanSat experience for all of the students, who competed in the June tournament.

The goal for each team is to get their CanSat safely to the ground while surviving the forces experienced during launch and deployment. The launches are all recorded by a video camera on board.

Courtesy University of Alabama in Huntsville

“As a team lead, I learned that it is important to create relationships among team members and boost motivation to make progress on the project,” says Haylee Winters, of Team Spaceshot. “As an electrical team member, I learned that it is important to jump in and learn as much as you can because even if you come across something that doesn’t seem relevant, it will likely come up later in the project.”

Ocean Bowling, Team Star Saber’s electrical sub-team lead and an aerospace engineering freshman from Louisville, Kentucky, learned about perseverance.

“The main takeaway I got from this was that it takes teamwork, time and commitment to make something even as small as the CanSat,” Bowling says.

Samantha Quartuccio, Team Highwire software sub-team lead and a freshman in computer engineering from Charleston, S.C., says the CanSat experience has been one of the most rewarding for her so far.

“Not many universities have such thorough engineering programs for freshman to experience, especially by themselves,” Quartuccio says. “It was really satisfying to see our ideas translate from paper into reality at the lab, and I can’t wait to get back in the labs and apply what we’ve learned over the course of the past year.”

Aidan Barton, Team Spaceshot’s electrical sub-team lead and an electrical engineering sophomore from Spring Hill, Ala., learned about project dedication.

Courtesy University of Alabama in Huntsville

“We could have spent more time working on the CanSat leading into the last month of competition,” Barton says. “Failing to do so created a massive crunch period for a few weeks before competition, which was especially difficult because many team members were also working on internships.”

Niko Duffy, Team Highwire’s team lead and a systems engineering freshman from Huntsville, says learning how to effectively communicate and integrate different ideas was a challenge.

“Although we struggled with integrating our parts in the beginning, in the end we had very good communication and succeeded because of it,” Duffy says.

All the teams overcame challenges getting over technical hurdles, time management requirements and the need for teamwork, says Tristan Carter, the SHC’s AutoSat program manager.