About Us


In the News!!

April 9, 2024--Being committed to raising the next generation of aerospace professionals, the FIRE Rocket Challenge was invited to join the Space 4 All Space Champions initiative led by the White House and the US Department of Education. Hundreds of private and public organizations with an aerospace focus are committing to ensuring there is "space" for everyone in the space industry.  Visit the Space4All website HERE

July 1-8 2023--FIRE Rocket students bring home gold, silver, and bronze! Five FIRE  rocketeers were selected to the US Junior Sapce Modeling Team for the 2023 World Games. Competing against several nations, Camille is the World Reigning Champ in the Streamer Event, Ike is the Women's Silver Medalist in Scale, and Ike, Zuri, and Randall are three of a four-person team winning Bronze in the Scale event. View videos, photo galleries, and team information HERE

September 9, 2022-- Vice President Harris Announces Commitments to Inspire, Prepare, and Employ the Space Workforce.  In a collaboration with the National Society of Black Engineers Aerospace Special Interest Group, The FIRE Rocket Challenge was recognized as a pre-college program designed “to ensure that the space workforce reflects the diversity of America."    Read the full article here

Our History

   Ignited from the observation of the lack of diverse participants in the model rocketry hobby and aerospace industry, mother and daughter team Robin and Charis Houston decided to create an avenue to increase participation of youth traditionally considered under-served and underrepresented in STEM programs and model rocketry. As a result, the FIRE Rocket Challenge launched in Fall 2021 with a group of fifteen fifth thru twelfth-grade students in the Maryland, DC, and Virginia metropolitan area!


     After a week session at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, Robin and Charis's trajectory to rocketry/STEM educators began in 2015. Charis returned home with enthusiasm, having learned she could mesh her love for all things space with her desire to be an engineer. But, "Houston, we have a problem!" Robin was a little less enthusiastic because she realized she would have to research opportunities in their community to help foster Charis's new interests. After several weeks of searching for accessible programs in the area, friends and fellow parents of a "STEM kid" directed Robin to FIRE STEM in Greenbelt, MD. FIRE STEM is a STEM education organization managed by a group of diverse aerospace engineers working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. One of the programs FIRE offered was an opportunity to participate in the national TARC (The American Rocketry Challenge) competition. Charis signed up, and within a couple of months, she was building model rockets to meet specific design challenges. Her TARC mentor gave her a flyer advertising NARCON, the annual conference for the National Association of Rocketry (NAR), which became the second stage booster of her rocketry journey.


     During the weekend of NARCON 2017 workshops and networking, Charis met two NAR members who encouraged her to try out for the junior national team. Six months later, she entered the competition to qualify for the national team and was selected to join the team that would represent the United States in the world championships in Poland the Summer of 2018. Of all of the juniors from twenty-four countries around the world on the launch field in Poland, Charis, and a teammate who was also a FIRE STEM student, were the only two brown-skinned children participating. On the plane ride home, Robin and Charis discussed how they might encourage other diverse juniors to take advantage of the rich experiences she enjoyed as a member of the model rocketry community. Charis was also selected during the next cycle for the 2020 Junior team before aging out of the junior age bracket at age nineteen years.



Charis graduated with a B.S. in Astronautical Engineering and is an Associate Engineer in Mission Operations.


Robin supports the National Society of Black Engineers Aerospace Special Interest Group K-12 Outreach efforts as program lead for the rocketry competition collaboration and is the current chairperson of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics K-12 Outreach Diversity Subcommittee. 

Our Core Team

The FIRE Rocket Challenge team is a group of enthusiastic volunteers who are passionate about providing quality STEM education programming to traditionally underrepresented and under-resourced youth.

Robin Houston

FIRE Rockets Director/Founder

Mentor & Coach

Charis Houston

FIRE Rockets Co-Founder

Mentor & Coach

Milton Davis

FIRE STEM Executive Director

Technical Advisor

Kevin Johnson

Treasurer, National Association of Rocketry

Technical Advisor

John Langford

Aerospace Industry Pioneer

Coach, Mentor & Technical Advisor




FIRE STEM  is a 501 c3 organization mentoring youth grades 5-12, interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The education program is advised by working engineers who are also members of the NSBE Greenbelt Space Alumni Chapter. FIRE (Future Innovative Rising Engineers) was named in 2009 by the students in the chapter to reflect their future goals in the STEM fields.  The teams meet  Saturdays during the school year at CMIT High School in Laurel, MD.

The FIRE Rocket Challenge is a program developed by the FIRE Aero-Innovations coaching team Robin and Charis Houston.

Participant Testimonials