JuliaJulia Gaubatz (AeroAstro ’21), Treasurer

Julia grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Growing up, she danced ballet and did a lot of sewing. In high school, she was the president of her school’s Chemistry Club, where she organized fun chemistry demos to get other students interested in STEM. She was also involved in FIRST Robotics, Science Olympiad, and Cross Country. She was always fascinated with space, but was not involved with rocketry until coming to MIT. With the other members of the Executive Council, she aspires to lead Rocket Team to break records and push the bounds of college rocketry. Julia has done research with Professor Dava Newman on mechanical counter-pressure space suits, and she has worked at The Aerospace Corporation. Julia also enjoys running, using her telescope, attending the Boston Ballet, and exploring Boston coffee shops.

Kelly Mathesius (AeroAstro ’17), Safety Officer0

Kelly is from Aurora, Illinois, and grew up building model rockets and attending Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Her primary interests on Rocket Team involve propulsion analysis and parachute design and construction. Besides building rockets, Kelly also enjoys solving Rubik’s Cubes and shooting with the MIT Varsity Rifle Team. Yay rockets!


Charlie Garcia (AeroAstro ’19),  Publicity ChairCharlieandEagerBeavercropped

Charlie grew up inside the Cosmosphere Science Education Center in Kansas. He attended space camp there every year he could, until he became one of the counselors. Charlie enjoys sharing his love of space exploration with people of all ages and walks of life through various mediums. In 2018 he lead the team as President to launch Project Hermes to 32,400 ft. Now, as the Publicity Chair of Rocket Team Charlie hopes to inspire others to explore the heavens. Charlie has done research on long duration solid rocket motors for Project Firefly, and spent two summers as an Engineering Intern at SpaceX. Charlie is an Eagle Scout and the Policy Debate Kansas State Champion (2015), and is a Level 3 certified member of the National Association of Rocketry. When Charlie isn’t building rockets, he is using his telescope, tinkering with his 3D printer, or enjoying a fantasy novel.



Tesla Wells (AeroAstro ’20), Social ChairTesla

Tesla dropped out of Arizona State University’s computer science program and moved to LA in 2016. While working as a web developer and fencing internationally, they accepted a job writing manufacturing software for SpaceX. It was here that Tesla’s desires to push boundaries, attain excellence, and fight limitations found fulfillment in space exploration. Tesla transferred to MIT in Spring ’17 to study GNC and controls for space systems. In addition to rocket team, they are president of East Campus, the Women’s Epee Squad leader for MIT’s varsity fencing team, and a member of multiple faculty committees doing student advocacy work. Tesla aspires to one day be a program director for a space vehicle or an astronaut.

Maddie Garcia (AeroAstro ’20), Outreach Chair

Maddie is from Charlotte, NC, and is currently studying Course 16. Her primary interests lie in bioastronautics, and hopes to go to Mars one day! This past summer, she worked at NASA Jet Propulsion Lab on the Mars 2020 Rover System Testbed, and had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Spaceport America Cup as a payload member. Outside of rocket team, she is involved with Sigma Kappa sorority, Latinos in Science and Engineering (MAES), and likes to build random side projects!


Team Leads

Matthew Campbell (AeroAstro ’20), Structures

Matthew is from Clarksville, MD. He has had a great interest in rockets and space since kindergarten, and has been launching rockets since elementary school. He has worked at NASA Goddard in on-orbit robotic servicing. In his free time, Matthew enjoys running.


Josef Biberstein (AeroAstro ’19), Avionics24740332_1991377251074017_1223806255_o

Josef Biberstein is from the small town of Freeport, Maine. Academically, he is very interested in control systems and robotics aspects of aerospace engineering, with a strong secondary passion for physics. Last summer, he worked in the Ballistic Missile Defense Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. His hobbies include writing code, making, playing guitar, and fervently hoping that he’ll be alive when we discover the microbes living under the ice on Europa.


Nick Bain (AeroAstro ’20),  Liquid Engine Development

Nick Bain
Nick grew up in Denver, CO and is working on a liquid rocket engine for the Rocket Team. Some of his past and current projects include building a small electric car, indoor greenhouses, boats, a (nonfunctional) alcohol rocket engine, and a single-seater ultralight. He’s interested in the future of long-distance transportation, manufacturing, and is looking forward to going to space.

Sam Austin (AeroAstro ’20),  Propulsion

Sam is from Allendale, Michigan and has been passionate about rocketry and spaceflight since he was inspired by the Apollo program many years ago. He is interested in both solid and liquid rocket propulsion, and hopes to pursue a career in the field. When he’s not in lab mixing propellant or watching a SpaceX launch, he likes to play the piano and explore new running routes around Boston. Last summer, he held an internship at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.


Andrew Reilley (EECS ’19)

Andrew grew up in Kennebunk, Maine and has been fascinated with rockets and other flying things for as long as he can remember. He has been building and launching rockets since middle school, and had his Jr. L1 certification before his freshman year of highschool was over. Predating this interest in rocketry is his love of programming, which is what he is at MIT to pursue. He especially enjoys any opportunity to combine these two fields, such as the avionics subteam, and hopes to have a career writing code in the aerospace industry.


Isaac Perper (Mechanical Engineering ’20), TreasurerIMG_4411

Isaac has loved space and flying ever since he got his first science book as a child. Growing up in Tiburon, CA, he spent a lot of time outdoors, often flying model planes or building bike trails in the hills. In high school, he led his high school TARC team to ninth place national finish, and he also competed in an underwater ROV competition. Last year, he was part of the Ground Support sub-team, where he worked on a data collection system for the solid motor test stand. Isaac is an Eagle Scout, and a member of the Varsity Soccer team at MIT. He is studying mechanical engineering, but has a focus on autonomous machines and robotics which he hopes to pursue in the future.

Eric Riehl (AeroAstro ’17)


Eric is from Miami Florida and comes from a diverse household as the first American born in his family. From his German, Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Venezuelan background he can speak Spanish and German. He enjoys beaches, sunshine, and pretty much anything that flies. Summer of 2014 he interned at Amazon Prime Air and became deeply interested in controls and autonomous vehicles. Last summer he interned at Northrop Grumman in the Guidance, Navigation, and Control division, working on X-47b and T-X programs. Beyond rockets, Eric’s pastimes include eating good food, playing the ukulele, and, whenever possible, traveling.




Colin Poler (Mechanical Engineering ’18)ID Photo


Colin was born in Boston, MA and grew up in London, UK. Colin appreciates elegant design in all branches of engineering, but finds the challenges of rocketry particularly interesting. Colin has worked on manufacturing for Firefly’s Alpha launch vehicle, and on system identification for Formlab’s Form 2 3D printer. Outside Rocket Team, Colin plays ice hockey with his intramural team, and leads runs with MIT’s running club.

Matt Vernacchia (AeroAstro 2015)SAMSUNG

Matt is from Pittsburgh, PA and is interested in robotics and propulsion. Matt has loved flying things of all kinds since he was a small child. Believing that the drive to discover is an essential component of being human, he has a passion for space exploration and pushing the frontiers of knowledge into the cosmos.  In those rare moments when he is not tooling or building rockets, Matt enjoys hiking, sailing, exploring Boston, listening to indie rock, eating spicy foodstuffs, and chilling with his bros at ADPhi.


 Ben Corbin

Ben Corbin has been the Rocket Team Safety Officer ever since it was legally mandated the Rocket Team have a safety officer. Since then, the team has a perfect safety record with zero injuries reported, thanks to his often-quoted mantra “Safety 3rd.” Ben was born in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and ever since then he has shown the world what is means to live on the razor-thin line between awesome and insane. He is licensed to operate cars, motorcycles, single-engine airplanes, and parachutes greater than 180 sq. ft. in area, and is the only human ever to pilot an airplane that was first launched out of a rocket. He has lived in China, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Russia during the course of his academic career. He has consulted on more than a half-dozen microgravity experiments and flown and operated two of them. When a sounding rocket project to study Venus’ atmosphere failed catastrophically after four years of effort, Ben went insane and was committed to an asylum, but quickly escaped to begin work developing inflatable antennas, exotic electric thrusters, and optical communications pointing control for small satellites. Ben expects to complete his PhD this year in Space Systems Engineering, after which the world better be ready for the chaos he will unleash into outer space.


Rocket Team at IREC 2016

Rocket Team at IREC 2016

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

86 − seventy eight =