Warren Poh | Daily TrojanRocket man · Neil Tewksbury, a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering, works on the nose cone of a rocket at the Viterbi lab.The Rocket Propulsion Laboratory of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering allows students of all experience levels to participate in design teams where they complete projects for competitions.Their ultimate goal, though, is to create the first university-built rocket to go to space.Each year, the team aims to make improvements on their rocket from previous years to increase its distance and height. “Our goal, to be the first university to go to space, is an ambitious goal. It’s a feat that takes faithful people,” Chief Composite Engineer Roberto Lopez said, in an email to the Daily Trojan. “The kind of people rocket lab attracts are internally motivated and excited about going to space.”Members of RPL can work with a number of sub-teams that specialize in order to work more efficiently. Chief Propulsion Engineer Damian Balla co-heads the propulsion team, whose main function is to design and build motors. Members in that sub-team focus on improving the motors to gain more altitude by collecting data on the performance of the propellant.Over the remaining semester, Balla and his team will find ways to improve the propellant. “We have several performance improvements to make to the propellant, which include making denser propellant that burns longer and has a different ‘thrust profile’ which allows us to gain massive amounts of performance,” Balla said in an email to the Daily Trojan.Last semester, RPL came in with the goal of testing their newest rocket, Fathom II, on the ground and in the air successfully in September. The plan proved too ambitious when the front end of the rocket burned through during static firing. “This made us push back our launch date until we had a working case design,” Lopez said. “After redesigning, we came back a month later only to have the same thing happen on the aft end of the vehicle.”While the first two tests were demoralized, Balla said that they were able to make progress with new member training and building hardware. Despite these setbacks, the team was able to regroup by November and attempt a third test. This time, the case they tested did not burn through. “With this new qualified design, we have built another case and attached fins to it getting ready for our much deserved flight March 4,” Lopez said.Balla said that the ability for RPL to press on in spite of hardships is emblematic of USC. “The ‘Fight On’ motto is extremely important for us because after all, it is rocket science, and it’s extremely difficult,” Balla said. “Because we continue to make improvements and iterate our designs at a rapid pace, we are able to truly ‘Fight On’ and achieve amazing things.”Lopez also believes it is the Trojan spirit that makes it possible for RPL to continue to make progress. “RPL produces engineers that are skillful and ambitious like Trojans. At RPL, we like to do things ourselves,” Lopez said. “We are more than just designers. We are builders. We machine all the metallic components on our manual mill and lathes. From this attitude, we gain valuable hands-on skills that help us design better components.”
It has been evident for some time that there would be something serious at stake on Sunday as the Glo Premier League reaches the final day with the title destination still undecided.The title charge is dominating the last day of matches as the Ghana league rounds up a long and busy league competition.The final day matches will wrap up a total of 480 matches involving 16 sides with three going on relegation and the title probably heading to Kumasi or Berekum when the curtain is drawn for the 2012-13 season.Asante Kotoko and Berekum Chelsea are involved in the title run-in as both teams remain level on points and are perched at the top of the table.Either side is aware that the last day would decide their seasons as expectation for the title swirls across the country.If either manages to win, then the chase for the title will be prolonged as a play-off rule will be invoked – both teams will play a one-off match – to decide where the trophy heads to. Kotoko will arrive at the Tema Stadium in a buoyant but cautious mood in their meeting against Amidaus Professionals. The Porcupine Warriors are aware what is at stake likewise their opponents, Amidaus, who could play a crucial role in denying Kotoko the title.Whiles Kotoko battle it out in Tema, Chelsea will be up against another tough opposition, Heart of Lions in Kpando.Lions are mired in the relegation battle on the final day and will need a win over title chasers, Chelsea to guarantee safety.Whichever side slips means that the title could be heading the opposite way.Though the focus is on the top-of-the-table meetings, the push for top-four places and the struggle to avoid the drop means there will be drama at all centres. Tema Youth, involved the battle to beat the drop will be looking for a crucial win at the Accra Sports Stadium where they play Hearts of Oak, who are chasing a top-four finish.Berekum Arsenal, sitting second from bottom but with an equal chance of avoiding the drop if they win and Tema Youth and Heart of Lions both lose will turn up at the Essipong Stadium as they serve a home ban to take on Dwarfs, another top-four contender.The Tamale Stadium will serve as the home ground of Aduana Stars, who will complete their two-match home ban after Sunday when they play Wa All Stars.Medeama after blowing the chance to be part of the title chase will try to aim for second place when they complete the season with a home game against New Edubiase at the T&A Park.At the Baba Yara Stadium, King Faisal will host Liberty Professionals. Already relegated, Real Tamale United, who are winless and only this week were ducked three points from their point accumulation to leave them with only 2 points after fielding an unqualified player in a league game will travel to the Len Clay Stadium to play AshantiGold.It promises to a be spectacular finish in yet another competitive season of Premier League football.