Andrew Adams (AeroAstro ’18), President10687357_481410698666926_5794602926757561260_o

Andrew is from Durham, North Carolina and is interested in innovative rocket design with the purpose of advancing human spaceflight to make humans an interstellar species. He has participated in IREC, NASA SLI, and TARC among other rocketry competitions and hopes to continue competing and learning in order to find a passion within rocketry. Outside RT (and other rocket-related projects), Andrew avidly listens to music, sings as part of MIT Resonance, is constantly distracted by flying things, and enjoys stargazing.



Andrew Kurtz (AeroAstro ’17), Vice President, Safety Officer

Andrew grew up in Tenafly, NJ. Two activities he enjoys are Scuba Diving and eating Japanese food. His main interests lie in Human spaceflight, 3D printing, and particularly where the two intersect. He also especially enjoys things that go BOOM. Andrew relishes spending his free time tinkering with 3D printers and misappropriating the aero-astro wind tunnel. Andrew is looking forward to his role as Payload Subteam Lead as well as his side commitment as Team Loft Captain.


 Dayna Erdmann (AeroAstro ’19), TreasurerDayna's Face

Dayna Erdmann was born in Bemidji, MN and is from a diverse background (quarter French, quarter German, quarter Kazakh and quarter Tatar). She is from a military family and her mother is a captain in the Air Force. Dayna was became interested in rocketry her freshman year and joined the structures subteam. She also took photos at launches and is now co-treasurer with Walaa Alkhanaizi. Dayna is eager to learn as much as she can about rockets and when she’s not thinking or reading about rockets, she enjoys watching Star Trek, learning different languages, eating good food and playing the piano.

Charlie Garcia (AeroAstro ’19), C0-Outreach & 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. 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.


Ricardo Rodriguez (AeroAstro ’19), C0-Outreach & Publicity Chair

Hello. I am Ricardo. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, where no one seems to own a glider. Despite this, I learned about aircraft through the Civil Air Patrol and got to fly a couple of times. At the same time, I carried out space-related research at the Arecibo Observatory, so since then I have pursued aerospace engineering. Despite having little experience with rocketry, I have learned much from Rocket Team in a single year. In the near future, I look forward to sharing my passion for STEM fields with younger generations. So far, my long-term vision is to empower groups of people through the access and use of space. I am unsure of how to approach this vision, but I am working on it. In any case, thank you for reading these bios and getting to know the people behind our rockets.

image1Martina Stadler (AeroAstro ’18), Social Chair, Payload

Martina is from Boston, MA. In the past, she has worked on both the Avionics and the Payload subteams. She is especially interested in Guidance, Navigation and Control. In her spare time, Martina is an active member of AIAA and bakes lots of cakes.

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.


headshotMadeleine Jansson (AeroAstro ’19), Recovery

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.

Andrew Reilley (EECS ’19), Avionics

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.

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

Leave a Reply

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

− six = three