We caught up with 2022 National Champions, Team Traffic Cone, from Tonbridge School who competed during the international finals at Farnborough International Airshow.

How long have you been competing in UKROC for?

Tonbridge School have been entering UKROC since 2018 with between four and five teams each year.

How did you find out about the competition?

We initially found out via the website, and it interested and excited us. Our teacher thinks the competition is a highly engaging design challenge and encourages teamwork. The fact you fly rockets adds a real element of excitement, even if some of the test flights don’t go quite right!

What did you enjoy about the 2022 competition?

We enjoyed the whole process, from designing, building and watching our rocket improve over time, and having to adapt and overcome challenges. UKROC is fun because you’re able to apply a lot of what you’ve learnt in class at school in a fun and creative way.

Attending the international finals at the Farnborough International Airshow was exciting and it was great to meet the international teams from the US, Japan, and France.

We also really enjoyed meeting the various companies such as Lockheed Martin, who were exhibiting at the Airshow and loved our inclusive ‘behind the scenes’ tour with ADS. We even got to have lunch with ESA astronaut Mattiaus Maurer, and ADS Chief Executive Kevin Craven in the purpose built ADS Partnership Chalet.

How did you manage your time alongside your school work and other commitments?

Our team met twice a week as part of our after-school rocketry club. We split the weekly meetings into one focussed on test flights, and the second focussed on learnings and design alterations.

After we were crowned National Champions in May 2022, we came into school during the school holidays to be able to physically work together and prepare for the international finals.

Throughout the design and build process we took lots of photos and completed our logbook gradually online via collaborative ways of working such as messages.

We also found the help of the ADS rocketeers super helpful, and it sped up our design and build process and we were able to get a lot done.

Would you encourage other teams to enter the 2023 competition?


UKROC is a fantastic, practical way to try out what you learn, from design, painting, maths, and practically using things learnt in the classroom.

We also loved the experience of attending the international finals, the ‘behind the scenes’ airshow tour, and meeting all the other international teams and learning about how other countries approach the competition.

What does the teacher of Team Traffic Cone think about UKROC?

It’s a really well run and organised competition. It challenges students in a unique way and with the wide range of age group able to compete (11-18-year-olds), it is possible to work the competition around exam timetables.

The comeptiton is particularly appealing to those strong on the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and maths), but also appeals to those interested in design and there’s a role for all of the team. Whether it be from Team Leader to rocket painter.

We also really enjoyed participating in the national finals, we and our school received publicity. ADS looks after all teams well during the process and I would encourage those interested to seriously consider it.