An Okotokian will be competing in a national rocket-building competition.

Strathcona-Tweedsmuir graduate Owen Plumb, currently studying Engineering at UBC Okanagan, is chief engineer for the Aerial Robotics and Rocketry Club's Hydra project.

The team will be building a rocket to compete in Launch Canada, an annual rocket competition supporting grassroots rocketry.

Plumb says these aren't the kind of rockets that enter into orbit, but they're also a far cry from bottle rockets.

"It's 15 feet tall and it's entirely made of fibreglass. We're going to be running some really cool motors in this thing called hybrids, which are kind of a middle ground between hobby motors and the things you'd see at a company like Space X. It's meant to be a test bed for a lot of our electronics and other hardware. A lot of the components we're buying don't come cheap, we're looking at a total cost of research and development of about $25,000."

The rocket, still in its early stages, has been dubbed the "Hydra Project" due to its multiple motors.

Aerial Robotics and Rocketry ClubA scale diagram of Hydra (Courtesy of Owen Plumb)

Launch Canada is an altitude-based competition, and the team will be aiming for 12,500 feet initially, but they'll be doubling that once they've got all four motors running.

They also plan on using an active GPS-guided parachute to recover the rocket.

Though the competition requires recovery of the rockets, the Aerial Robotics and Rocketry Club is taking steps to ensure they'll have an easy job of it.

"It's not exactly the best terrain for walking through. There are lots of trees near our launch site, so we want to be able to direct our rocket toward the road or something where we know we can drive out and pick up the rocket in one piece," says Plumb.

The competition website states that it's intended to create "unprecedented hands-on learning experiences for students that provide them with unmatched real-world engineering experience."

Plumb says that's very much the case with his team, which includes members from a few different disciplines.

"We've got a huge range of people on our team. We've got everyone from comp-sci majors to engineers, from first year all the way to the graduate level, so it's a pretty good distribution."

Plumb honed many of these skills during his four years with the Okotoks Stratobots, a local student robotics team.

"We built robots to compete in FIRST Tech Challenge. I did a lot of our design work and 3D printing. We won a lot of awards over the years, that's kind of how I got into the whole tech scene."

The team is currently looking for sponsors for the project, with a few tiers available.

More information on the Aerial Robotics and Rocketry Club can be seen on their Facebook page.