This year, Russell Lubin hopes to lead the Case Rocket Team to new heights—literally. After a successful run last year that landed the team in first in their category and second overall at the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition, the team will move up into the 30,000-foot altitude group after previously competing at the 10,000 mark.
“Learning that we came in first place in our category and second overall completely blew our minds; you should’ve seen everyone’s faces,” said Lubin, team president and a third-year double-majoring in mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering. “It’s a day I know both myself and the team will never forget.”
This summer, Lubin will apply some of the lessons he’s learned at a research and development internship with Firefly Aeronautics, an opportunity afforded to him through the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship Program.
The Daily talked with Lubin to learn more about his experience with the Case Rocket Team, his fellowship and more.
Answers have been lightly edited for clarity and length.
1. What drew you to CWRU?
I was drawn to CWRU for two main reasons. First, I really value the hands-on approach to teaching engineering supported by facilities like think[box] and classes like EMAE 160 [Mechanical Manufacturing] and Senior Design. Additionally, the low student-to-faculty ratio gives me an opportunity to really connect with my professors and create a learning environment that helps me prosper.
2. Why did you decide to pursue an aerospace engineering degree? What do you hope to do with it?
I’ve known that I’ve wanted to be an aerospace engineer for quite a while. I have always loved putting things together, and I also think space is super awesome, so I figured the best way to combine my love for both would be to pursue an aerospace engineering degree. When I graduate, I hope to work on cutting-edge propulsion systems for both in-space and earth-based vehicles.
3. What is your goal as president of Case Rocket Team?
As president of CRT, my primary goal has been to set the club up for future success. For the first time in many years, we’ve had a massive influx of passionate and driven members who are eager to learn and contribute to the club’s success. Despite the challenges of losing our senior members to the workforce each year, I’m confident that our new members will step up and push the boundaries of what we can achieve as a club. With the policies and practices we’ve instituted, I’m optimistic the club’s knowledge base will continue to expand and that we will continue to pursue increasingly challenging projects.
4. Does your interest in aerospace engineering and rockets expand into your free time?
Over the summer, I collaborated on a project with my friend Andrew Bean, the president of the University of Maryland’s rocketry team, on a two-stage 14-foot-tall rocket that we will be launching to 100,000 feet this summer.
While rockets take up quite a bit of my free time, I also have a lot of other hobbies. I cook all the time, I play guitar, I am an avid skier, I relax by tending my backyard garden and reading, and I love spending time with friends participating in events at Chabad with the CWRU Jewish community.
5. Can you tell me a bit about your fellowship and what it will entail?
The Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship Program (MIFP) connects aspiring aerospace engineers with commercial space companies, executive mentors in the industry, and each other to create a professional support network for rising industry leaders. Aside from being paired with Firefly Aerospace, I got to meet my mentor Dan Goldin who is a former NASA administrator.
I am extremely excited to continue working with the amazing people at the fellowship, with Mr. Goldin, and to meet all the other 2023 fellows over the summer at the MIFP summit.