Rocket science: Carmel Valley teens showcase home-built rocket at San Francisco expo


Carmel Valley teens Braxton Herold, Matthew Iannitelli, and Miles Krawitz exhibited their made-from-scratch, thrust-vector-controlled rocket on July 15-16 at the Open Sauce 2023 “Celebration of Makers and Creators” exposition at Pier 35 in San Francisco. The two-day event, a brainchild of popular YouTube engineering personality William Osman, drew over 4,000 spectators eager to experience the maker community’s newest inventions.

Iannitelli and Krawitz, 15, and Herold, 14, all Canyon Crest Academy students who call their independent team “Aerofusion,” began designing the multichamber, Arduino-Nano-microcontrolled “Ares” rocket in the garage two years ago while still in middle school. After many iterations, the rocket that includes custom printed circuit boards and a two-axis motor with a 3D-printed gimbal was launched successfully on March 5 in Ocotillo wells, Calif.

Believed to be the youngest exhibitors at the Open Sauce 2023 conference, the trio’s project was one of only 150 accepted from over 400 applications.

The Aerofusion team successfully launches its thrust-vector-controlled rocket

The Aerofusion team successfully launches its thrust-vector-controlled rocket on March 5 in Ocotillo Wells.

(Courtesy Katherine Iannitelli

“The best part of (Open Sauce 2023) was meeting a ton of cool engineers that I look up to,” Krawitz said. “It was thrilling to share the rocket project with them and receive their valuable feedback.”

Josef Prusa was the Czech inventor who invented the Prusa 3D Printer, which is now a world-famous product. The team was able to explain their project to Josef Prusa, the Czech inventor of the now world-famous Prusa 3D printer.

From left: Matthew Iannitelli and Braxton Herold

Matthew Iannitelli (left) and Braxton Herrold, the inventors of the Prusa3D printer, explain to Josef Prusa the Aerofusion rocket.

(Courtesy Katherine Iannitelli

Three future professional engineers attribute their success to perseverance, and teamwork. “This was not easy … but it was all possible as a team,” Iannitelli said.

When asked to share advice for other makers, Iannitelli said, “Find something new that hasn’t been done before in your field of interest, and build upon it.” Herold added, “Just start making things you think would be cool. Especially in the iterative design process, try new ideas even if they seem difficult or not likely to work.”

Aerofusion’s future plans include launching new versions of Ares, integrating a rocket into a space shuttle design, and building their Instagram presence (@aerofusion_lab).



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