ANU Rocketry blasts off at the Governor Generals Design Challenge

Wednesday 11 September 2019

The ANU Rocketry team attended the annual Governor General’s Design Challenge, organised by Questacon and hosted by His Excellency the Honourable David Hurley at Government House, on Friday 16 August.

The event had primary school students from around the Canberra region presenting their “landing craft”, with said craft subjected to rigorous tests developed by Questacon, such as a bicycle-powered centrifuge and a trebuchet.

ANU Rocketry volunteered along with other partner organisations, to represent the wide variety of pathways and cognate industries and disciplines in space and rocketry. Volunteers not only promoted their own organisations, but also assisted in the educational efforts of the event as a whole.

ANU Rocketry was invited to operate Questacon’s testing facilities, quizzing the primary school students on their landing crafts, and assisting with their designs. Everyone also voted on their favourite craft, with each partner organisation distributing four votes.

The ANU Rocketry stall was very successful. With multiple competition rockets and launch videos on display, students were so fascinated they practically had to be dragged from the stand by their teachers.

Students took interest both in the technical aspects of the rockets and the overall project. We had long discussions about structure, materials and avionics, with the display rockets pulled apart and each operating feature described in detail.

The team members explained the various technicalities of not only reaching 10,000 ft, but also trying to accurately reach that altitude. The primary school students did not hesitate to ask as many questions as possible, often challenging us with their complex insights.

They were also very responsive to our team’s future plans, such as the Australian Universities Rocketry Competition (AURC), which was an eye-opening idea as the students imagined possibilities as space and rocketry enthusiasts.

During the judgement phase ANU Rocketry team members had the opportunity to interact directly with primary students to discuss the technical foundations of the design decisions made in their various crafts.

Topics such as shock resistance were discussed and explained, with the students able to give surprisingly detailed presentations on the engineering and physics principles underpinning their designs.

Since Questacon’s testing stations were also destroying many of the creations, it also lead to important discussions on iterative design, failure and persistence, with reflections on these topics relevant to the students’ education - not just as engineers and scientists, but also as people in general.

The team was so impressed by the displays of inquisitiveness, passion, intellect and perseverance from the young minds throughout the day. We’ll be looking forward to them joining the team in the future!

ANU Rocketry is immensely grateful for the opportunity to have assisted Questacon and the Governor General in the rewarding and fulfilling process of inspiring creativity and curiosity in young students.

If you are interested to: learn more about ANU Rocketry,  would like to get in touch for future outreach activities, or engage as a supporter, please feel free to email us at or visit our Facebook page for more information.



Updated:  10 August 2021/Responsible Officer:  Dean, CECS/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing