VFS announces 2020 Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarship recipients

Vertical Flight Society Press Release | April 24, 2020

Estimated reading time 7 minutes, 6 seconds.

The Vertical Flight Society has announced its 2020 Vertical Flight Foundation (VFF) scholarship recipients. Scholarships totaling $100,000 are being awarded again this year to 29 of the world’s most talented engineering students interested in vertical flight.

“Since 1977, our Vertical Flight Foundation scholarships have helped inspire generations of students to pursue careers in vertical flight, with many now holding leadership positions in industry, academia and government,” said VFS executive director Mike Hirschberg. “We have greatly expanded the program in recently years, tripling the total award given in the past decade and reaching more students than ever.”

The following are this year’s awardees, who will be recognized at the Vertical Flight Society’s Grand Awards Banquet on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. The banquet is one of the highlights of the Vertical Flight Society’s 76th Annual Forum & Technology Display, Oct. 6 to 8, at the Virginia Beach Convention Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia (see www.vtol.org/forum).

Bachelor Degree Recipients

  • Joseph Michael Ayd, III, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University: Friedrich Straub Scholarship, honoring the former senior manager of dynamics technology and technical fellow of The Boeing Company
  • Grant Erickson, Texas A&M University: Geoff Byham Scholarship, honoring an architect of advanced rotor aerodynamics at Westland Helicopters, Yeovil, England (now Leonardo Helicopters)
  • Rachel Harvey, University of Maryland: Raymond W. Prouty Scholarship, which honors the memory of a pioneering helicopter engineer with a lifelong commitment to educating the rotorcraft community
  • James William Krasa, II, Old Dominion University: John Zuk Scholarship, honoring the NASA engineer who was a champion of civil tiltrotor technology and applications
  • Grant McCurdy, Texas A&M University: Bob Lynn Scholarship, which honors the memory of the former Bell Helicopter executive and VFS leader par excellence
  • Ryan Murphy, Purdue University: Glidden S. Doman Scholarship, named for one of the six original American helicopter pioneers
  • Yashvardhan Tomar, Georgia Institute of Technology: Charles C. Crawford Scholarship, named in memory of the former Army Aviation development leader, GTRI researcher and past VFS Board Chair
  • Qingwen Wei, University of Maryland: Robert P. Ernst Scholarship, honoring the former US Navy chief engineer for unmanned tactical rotorcraft

Master Degree Recipients

  • Jan-Arun Faust, Technical University of Munich: Santino “Tino” Pancotti Scholarship, honoring the former technical lead for Agusta and AgustaWestland (now Leonardo Helicopters)
  • Richard Healy, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Robert Head Scholarship, honoring the engineering pioneer from McDonnell/Hughes/McDonnell/Douglas/Boeing
  • *Chloe Johnson, University of Texas at Austin: Bell Textron Scholarship, provided by a generous VFF endowment from the company
  • Marek Lukasiewicz, Warsaw University of Technology: Marat Tishchenko Scholarship, honoring the former head of the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, and professor at Moscow Aviation Institute and University of Maryland
  • Ravi Lumba, University of Maryland: Dean Carico Scholarship, named for the US Navy rotary-wing ship suitability engineer
  • Amy Morin, University of Maryland: Dr. E. Roberts (Bob) Wood Scholarship, named for a preeminent aeromechanics engineer and beloved professor who inspired generations
  • Farid Saemi: Texas A&M University: Tom Wood Honorary Scholarship, which recognizes more than 50 years of technical contributions to Bell Helicopter by Mr. Wood
  • Daniel Weitsman, The Pennsylvania State University: Frank N. Piasecki Scholarship, honoring the inventor of the tandem rotor helicopter

Doctorate Degree Recipients

  • Belen Bowman, The Pennsylvania State University: Barnes McCormick Scholarship, honoring Penn State’s venerable Boeing Professor Emeritus
  • *Jason Cornelius, The Pennsylvania State University (3-time recipient): Hal Andrews Scholarship, which remembers a preeminent Navy aviation engineer, advisor and historian
  • Miranda Costenoble, University of Maryland: Eugene K. Liberatore Scholarship, which honors the memory of a pioneering helicopter engineer, author and historian
  • Emily Fisler, University of Maryland: Alfred and Elaine Gessow Scholarship, honoring a pioneer in the helicopter field at NACA/NASA and founder of the University of Maryland rotorcraft center
  • Avani Gupta, Georgia Institute of Technology (2-time recipient): Wel Chong (Ben) Sim Scholarship, honoring the US Army acoustics research scientist
  • Bochan Lee, Texas A&M University (2-time recipient): Barry J. Baskett Scholarship, honoring the memory of a career US Army engineer who led Aviation Engineering, and later managed the Aviation Technology Base Program
  • Charis Lin, The Pennsylvania State University: John J. Schneider Scholarship, honoring the memory of a preeminent VTOL aircraft designer and historian
  • Michael McKay, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2-time recipient): Jeff Pino Scholarship, named for the retired Master US Army Aviator, former Bell Helicopter executive and retired Sikorsky Aircraft CEO
  • Stefan Platzer, Technical University of Munich: Henrich Focke Scholarship, honoring the creator of the world’s first practical helicopter
  • Abhishek Shastry, University of Maryland (2-time recipient): Dr. Joseph Hoeg Scholarship, honoring the US Navy rotorcraft structures and test engineer who retired as the Executive Director of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River
  • Tyler Sinotte, University of Maryland (2-time recipient): Dr. Richard M. Carlson Scholarship, former Hiller and Lockheed engineer who became the chief of the Army’s Advanced Systems Research and Analysis Office at Ames Research Center
  • Austin Thai, Boston University (2-time recipient): Michael P. Scully Scholarship, honoring the US Army Senior Research Engineer Emeritus and VFS Fellow
  • Christopher Thurman, University of Maryland: Joseph P. Cribbins Scholarship, honoring the individual who had perhaps the most influence and long-term impact on US Army Aviation logistics in the 20th century

Each of the Bachelor scholarships includes a cash award of $2,800; the masters students receive $3,500 each and doctorate scholarship winners each receive $3,700. In addition, the top graduate candidate (marked above with an asterisk) have received special recognition. Johnson of the University of Texas at Austin will receive a total of $5,000 for the Bell Vertical Flight Scholarship. Cornelius of Pennsylvania State University is a three-time VFF recipient having been awarded a scholarship as BS and master student and now PhD.

The Vertical Flight Foundation was established in 1967 as the philanthropic arm of the Vertical Flight Society. Since 1977, the merit-based scholarship program has been a great success story: 590 scholarships have been awarded since that time. The program has been greatly expanded in recent years, with the number of recipients doubling in the last decade, and the total annual scholarship disbursement tripling. Since 2012 alone, more than 200 VFF scholarships totaling over $650,000 have been awarded.

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