In March, BSc student in Business Administration and Philosophy Ozan Yalcinkaya was attending an Open House event at DTU when an actual space rocket caught his eye in a booth. Always enthusiastic about rockets, he fell into conversation with Amalie Rasmussen, who beamed at the opportunity to sign up volunteer students from CBS for the Danish Student Association for Rocketry (DanSTAR).
“I recall Ozan saying, ‘Can you use CBS students for anything?’ I just heard birds singing: Finally! The team had been talking about how we could use somebody studying something closer to project management than we do as engineers,” association chair Amalie Rasmussen explains.
“It takes people who are passionate about their subject.”
Why CBS skills?
Aren’t engineering skills more crucial in making the rocket fly high – and land again, hopefully in one piece? DanSTAR is already packed with ’nerdy engineering types’ as an energetic Amalie Rasmussen puts it. And rocketry takes more than the pure technical aspects. The help DanSTAR needs right now is in different areas: PR, marketing, social media, fundraising, financial management, project management, logistics – or whatever CBS students want to contribute.
Ozan Yalcinkaya followed up on the contact and organised an excursion on 13 June to the Danish Technical University (DTU), to the DanSTAR headquarters, for CBS students hoping to hear more. DanSTAR is located in the large Skylab buildings, an innovation hub hosting numerous startups and workshops.
He describes himself as someone who has always been interested in space travel and follows launches in his spare time.
“Before I applied to CBS, I was 50/50 on whether to study mechanical engineering or business economics. Very different worlds – but CBS won. I was excited to see what DanSTAR was doing, standing there with a rocket. So cool. That’s why I asked if they could use someone from CBS and how I could contribute to this.”
So after a while – and doing his bachelor’s project – he followed up with DanSTAR and suggested they organise an excursion to take people from CBS to the home of the rocket.
Despite June being exam time, at CBS and elsewhere, six CBS students all on the sixth semester of their Business Administration and Philosophy bachelor’s decided to seize the opportunity – and learned about the first official partnership between students from two universities in the history of Skylab, according to the organisers.
The excursion kicked off with a brief personal introduction of everyone, both from CBS and the DanSTAR association. Amalie Rasmussen introduced the fascinating world of rocketry – easily throwing around terms like fuel pipe, propellant, oxidiser, cable harness, high pressure tank (dangerous), recovery parachute system (difficult) and launch rails (they had to build their own).
Need for social media help
Manned only by volunteer students, DanSTAR has been quite successful and is currently working on its third bi-liquid rocket and holding the world record in altitude reached with a student built bi-liquid rocket (6.545,2 meter). However, the social media presence is less convincing.
Amalie Rasmussen apologises, explaining that social media is important, but that even though DanSTAR has more than a thousand followers they have not been able to muster the dedication it requires.” She shows illustrating “how much we need someone to take charge of our social media and teach us to not just build rockets”.
It was supposed to be a video of the launch of the Valkyrie rocket – but it’s basically noise, ecstatic cheering and frantic throwing around of the camera. No rocket or people in sight.
“You can basically get the vibe from the situation, you can tell how much it means to us. But it would have been nice to have a video that showed the launch of the rocket that beat the world record,” she sighs while laughing.
Find your fun thing to do
Next, we’re walking to the DanSTAR epicentre – the garage, a designated workspace among numerous startups – to marvel at all the bits and pieces, including a large project timeline board, necessary when constructing a rocket. Afterwards, participants gather on the rooftop terrace for pizzas in the evening sun and further discussion on how CBS students might contribute to the adventure.
“None of us at DanSTAR have academic backgrounds within project management. We’re very hardcore at mathematics and physics. But I think less than half of what we’re actually doing right now is the technical stuff. We do management, time management, how much money to spend on what, schedules, how many members do we need for something? Do we have sufficient skills? Or is everyone on their first semester? It’s far from what super hardcore specialised engineers do.”
And social media is a pain needing to be addressed. Even though everyone at DanSTAR agrees in principle that social media presence is important, that is not what the current members are good at or interested in, she says. The hope is to find members who would enjoy taking on the task.
“We would like to reflect our professional approach in every area, not just launching rockets. We are open to other cool things, knowledge and ideas that CBS people know much more about.”
Ozan Yalcinkaya quickly realised the need for CBS students to join in – and he wants to emphasise that they don’t have to put in extreme amounts of work: “If you have a specific passion for running a campaign or designing, then you don’t have to sign up to run all of the marketing. If you’d like to manage the DanSTAR Youtube channel, do interviews or a talk show, graphic design, run an Instagram account, whatever, then let’s do that. You know what you find exciting.”
Both hope to get new people starting this summer, in time for the yearly European Rocketry Challenge (EuRoC) competition in Portugal, which will be on every DanSTAR enthusiast’s mind until the launch in October.
Amalie Rasmussen: “We’re hoping this year we’ll bring home a whole rocket, in one piece, not totalled.”