We are a team

of engineers, innovators, and students. The CU Sounding Rocket Laboratory is built on a foundation of reckless ambition and continuous learning, supported by University education in Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physics, Business, and other areas. With a focus on thorough safety protocols and conscientious engineering, SRL transcends the label of a student club as we develop our technical and personal skills in a rigorous environment.

SRL team members are making their mark on the aerospace industry at companies throughout the country.

Team Leadership

Michael Sherman –
Team Captain

Contact: michael.sherman@colorado.edu

Ben Chapel –
Team Captain

Contact: bech8712@colorado.edu

Kenny Olavaria –
Lead Engineer

Contact: keol4667@colorado.edu

Project Leads and Advisors

James Nabity, Ph.d. –
Faculty advisor

Dr. Nabity is an Associate Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences working for Bioserve Space Technologies. He has been a professor at CU since 2013, and prior to that he was a Principal Engineer at TDA Research, Inc. and a Mechanical Engineer at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division. He received his Pd.D. in Mechanical Engineering from CU, and was deemed a NASA highly qualified candidate for the Astronaut Class of 2009, among myriad other achievements.

For the past several years, Dr. Nabity has been the official faculty advisor for SRL, providing exceptional technical and administrative advice for all of our operations. Today, Dr. Nabity is the primary advisor for all of SRL’s rocketry projects.

rex laceby –
Team advisor

Rex Laceby is a retired, prior-enlisted, Marine Corps Officer with an Infantry & Special Operations background. He is the Co-Founder and President of the CU-Boulder Veterans Alumni Association which provides fun social events, community service opportunities, transitional assistance and networking opportunities to CU Boulder student veterans and alumni. He was also the Program Director of the National Security Innovation Network, and he works to support CU Engineering students’ engagement in National Security projects. He’s now Chief of Staff at Advanced Space, an aerospace company in Westminster, Colorado.

Rex met the team in the Fall of 2019 and has been deeply involved ever since. Today, he is one of our primary advisors in the fields of safety and risk mitigation, as well as being one of our primary liaisons to the University of Colorado as a whole. His leadership and experience are an invaluable resource for the leadership of the team, helping guide us toward our goals while maintaining an atmosphere of integrity and professionalism.

Kenneth Olavarria –
composite motor development lead

Hello! My name is Kenny and I am the composite motor development lead here at CU SRL. Composite motor technology is paramount to developing high performance solid rocket motors that are lightweight and inexpensive. Your role as a fellow member of this team will be to research, design, manufacture, and test Spaceshot worthy rocket motors with help from the propellant development team and composites team. I joined SRL during my freshman year, where I helped design and manufacture solid rocket propellant for all of our custom solid rocket motors – all the way from 1.6″ characterization grains to 8″ diameter grains in our composite R class motor. I was then propellant development team lead, where I spearheaded propellant mixing and R&D to provide us higher performing and more reliable propellant formulations. Now is an exciting time to join the composite motor team – there are plenty of new propellants and motor architectures to test!

Contact: Kenneth.Olavarria@colorado.edu

Ben Chapel –
liquid engine development LEAD

Hello! My name is Ben Chapel and I am the Liquid Engine Development team lead for SRL. I am an Engineering Physics and Aerospace Engineering major entering my fourth of five years here at CU. I have always had an interest in engineering, and after two years studying physics I rediscovered my passion for rockets which led me to join aerospace and subsequently SRL. I recently took over as team lead for Liquids, and I’m looking forward to building a new path forward with this team and to firing and launching some awesome liquid rockets! Being a part of this team has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me thus far, and I hope to help provide a space for everyone else on the team to have that experience as well! 

Contact: Benjamin.Chapel@colorado.edu

Chris lolkema –
Mamba lead

Hey! I’m Chris and I’m a Senior, and more importantly an aspiring Aerospace Engineer, out of Washington State. For as long as I can remember I have always had a passion for engineering and aerospace, some of my earliest memories include building elaborate Lego spaceships and space ports. It was only natural that I would end up half a country away at the University of Colorado. I have been involved with SRL since my first semester at CU and was immediately drawn to the community and support this club offers. The main projects that I have helped with have been Diamondback, Space Shot and the Obsidian Launch Vehicle where I eventually became the project lead for. SRL has and will continue to be an amazing club to be a part of and I am excited to see what the future holds for us.

Contact: Christopher.Lolkema@colorado.edu

Michael Sherman – propellant dev lead

Hello! My name is Michael Sherman, I am a co-lead of the Propellant Development team. I am a Junior Aerospace Engineering student. I joined SRL my sophomore year on the liquids team but moved over to Prop Dev this year after working with solids over the summer. Outside of school and SRL I enjoy Snowboarding, Scuba diving, and Robotics.

Contact: michael.sherman@colorado.edu

Felix Evrard –
Propellant Dev Lead

Hey! My name is Felix Evrard and I’m a junior here at CU, majoring in (surprise) Aerospace Engineering. I’m originally from France and moved to the states just a couple years ago for my freshman year. I’ve been involved with SRL to varying degrees since my freshman year and have been mostly interested in propulsion. This semester I get to lead SRL’s Propellant Development team, which is super exciting as we’re just starting a characterization campaign for some brand new, custom developed propellant! We’ll be mixing and casting this propellant into motors which will be static fired to gather all the required data to make sure we completely understand this new formulation. Other than rockets I like to play tennis, ski and go to concerts! Feel free to reach out to me by email if you’re interested in this team!

Contact: felix.evrard@colorado.edu

Winnie Regan –
System Admin lead

Hello! I’m Winnie and I am the system administrator for CU SRL. I’m an Aerospace Engineering major who joined SRL a year ago as a freshman, where I first started writing code for the team’s avionics prior to the launch of Obsidian. While I still write software for the avionics team, I’m now managing the server. Outside of school, I love to snowboard and bike.

Contact: wire5926@colorado.edu

Andrew Lee –
Avionics lead

I’m Andrew Lee, the avionics lead. I’m a junior majoring in aerospace engineering. Feel free to reach out on slack if you want to talk about avionics or your favorite budget meal foods to cook.

Contact: anle7157@colorado.edu

David Tan –
Level 1 Certification Lead

Hi! I am David, I love high power rocketry. I am currently a junior studying aerospace engineering. I am a level 2 high power rocketry certified from Tripoli Rocketry Association and is in the process of getting my level 3 certification this Fall 2022! If you are interested and want to start in high power rocketry you can contact me!

Contact: data5206@colorado.edu

Hayden Yearout –
Level 1 Certification Lead

Hello! I’m currently a sophomore at CU and this year I’ll be leading our High Power Rocketry program, which is based mainly around getting as many new (and returning) SRL members as possible Level 1 certified. After first getting involved with SRL as a freshman last year, I am so excited to return this year to share my rocketry knowledge and passion for all things rocket and space related. I’m currently Level 2 certified under the Tripoli Rocketry Association, and I plan to get my Level 3 certification next spring or summer. You can find out more about our certification program here. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions!

Contact: hayden.yearout@colorado.edu