Charlie Garcia (AeroAstro ’19), PresidentCharlieandEagerBeavercropped

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. As the co-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. Charlie is an Eagle Scout and the Policy Debate Kansas State Champion (2015), and is a Level 2\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.


 Andrew Reilley (EECS ’19), Vice-President

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.

Madeleine Jansson (AeroAstro ’19), Social Chair, Recovery Leadheadshot

Madeleine grew up in Greenwich, CT and currently studies Course 16 with a minor in music. This past summer, she worked on tail deployment mechanisms with the MIT Firefly team and is excited to work on chute deployment with the Recovery Subteam this year. Madeleine also plays piano with the MIT Chamber Music Society.

Team Leads

801Amy Vanderhout (AeroAstro ’18), Structures

Amy is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and loves to push the limits to explore farther and learn more about the universe. She started building rockets in college, and has attended the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition with Rocket Team. In addition to her love of aerospace, she enjoys skiing, cheering for the Green Bay Packers, and baking.

Piper Sigrest (AeroAstro ’18), Support Equipment

 Piper grew up in a cozy home in Woodbridge, VA, surrounded by aviation! Her passion for manned space exploration started with a love of flying – she earned her private pilot’s license on her seventeenth birthday, and continues to learn and expand as a pilot. Piper discovered rocketry her freshman year at MIT, and was instantly hooked! She is excited to act as the Recovery subteam lead this year to develop a modular and reliable recovery system. Piper has worked at NASA Langley, Aurora Flight Sciences, and most recently at SpaceX on the Commercial Crew Mission Management Team. Piper is studying AeroAstro Engineering at MIT, and aspires to one day walk on Mars and help humanity become multi-planetary! When she isn’t staring at the sky, Piper loves to read, crochet, solve Sudoku puzzles, and spend time outdoors.


Zachary Bierstedt (AeroAstro ’17), Propulsion

Zach is from Sioux Falls, SD, and has loved flying rockets for most of his life. Specifically, he loves working with engines and motors, trying to understand how they work and how they can be made even better. He was a part of the NASA INSPIRE program, and took part in a Practikum (a very short internship) at Rolls Royce Deutschland while he lived in Potsdam, Germany. When not building rockets or studying, Zach helps out with events at his dorm, as well as being an avid outdoorsman.


Ethan Perrin (MechE ’20),  Engine DevelopmentEthan

Ethan is from Redmond, WA where he quickly developed a highly motivated interest in aerospace and mechanical engineering.  His past projects include high altitude balloons, an award winning documentary on Nikola Tesla, a supercritical carbon dioxide refrigerator, several Tesla coils, an electric conversion of a Mazda RX7, and most recently a LOX-Ethanol liquid bipropellant sounding rocket.  Planning to major in mechanical engineering, Ethan is pushing Rocket Team into the next generation of propulsion systems by leading the Viper LOX-Methane rocket engine development program. He is currently on the MIT Formula SAE team as well, working on battery production, frame manufacturing, and wheel packages.


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.



Kelly Mathesius (AeroAstro ’17)0

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!





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

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