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2024 UMD VFF scholarship recipients, (top row, left to right) Apurva Anand, Matthew Arace, Batin Bugday, and Margaret Donovan; (bottom row, left to right) Grace Johnson, William Ogle, and Logan Swaisgood.

2024 UMD VFF scholarship recipients, (top row, left to right) Apurva Anand, Matthew Arace, Batin Bugday, and Margaret Donovan; (bottom row, left to right) Grace Johnson, William Ogle, and Logan Swaisgood.


Once again, University of Maryland students were well represented among the 2024 Vertical Flight Society’s (VFS) annual scholarship recipients announced on April 1.

VFS’ philanthropic arm, the Vertical Flight Foundation (VFF), annually awards students who represent the world’s most talented engineering students interested in vertical flight, and this year, seven UMD aerospace engineering students were selected out of 29 total awards.

Apurva Anand received the Bob Lynn Scholarship, which honors the memory of the former Bell Textron executive and VFS leader par excellence.

Anand is a second-year Ph.D. candidate at Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center under the advisement of Professor James Baeder. His research focuses on the development and implementation of machine learning frameworks and surrogate models for rotorcraft aerodynamic design applications. Before attending UMD, he worked at Airbus as a Flight Dynamics and Aircraft Performance Engineer for two years. He is a citizen of Nepal and holds a master's degree in aerospace engineering from Indian Institute of Science.

After completing his Ph.D., Anand aims to continue focusing on aerodynamic design and optimization using surrogate models and machine learning as well as conventional design methodologies either in industry or in research labs.

Matthew Arace received the M.A. “Tony” Paradiso Scholarship, honoring the pioneering Sikorsky engineer and founding member of VFS.

Arace is a 4th year Ph.D. student under the advisement of Associate Professor Anubhav Datta. His research focuses on unlocking the potential of hybrid-electric and electric propulsion systems for VTOL through both experimentation and analysis.

Arace graduated from Virginia Tech in 2017 with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and minor in Mathematics while gaining internship experience supporting NASA’s Low Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD) project. Following graduation, he worked as a Systems Engineer supporting the FAA's NextGen initiative for several years.

Once he completes his Ph.D., he hopes to contribute to the development of advanced analytical tools to assess the complex aeromechanics and dynamics of unconventional, multi-rotor aircraft, and contribute heavily to the decarbonization of aviation without compromising mission performance.

Batin Bugday received the Dr. Jing Yen VFF Scholarship for Cost Awareness, given to the most qualified applicant who shows interest in improving rotorcraft affordability.

Bugday is a Ph.D. student in conducting research at the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center's Extended Reality Flight Simulation and Control Laboratory, under the advisement of Assistant Professor Umberto Saetti. His work primarily focuses on stability and control of coupled flight dynamics and state-variable implementation and linearization of multi-disciplinary aeromechanics and aeroacoustics of vertical lift vehicles. This research holds potential in the widespread utilization of immersive simulations with extended reality, the synthesis of advanced flight control laws and the development of multimodal pilot cueing methods to augment human-machine interaction.

He graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Middle East Technical University, Türkiye. Batin brings prior experience in indigenous rotorcraft design, flight mechanics, and systems engineering from his industry background before embarking on his doctoral studies.

Looking ahead, Bugday wants to be at the forefront of driving the “advancement of vertical lift technology by expanding the operational capabilities and improving the affordability.”

Margaret Donovan received the Dr. Friedrich Straub Scholarship, honoring the former senior manager of dynamics technology and technical fellow of The Boeing Company.

Donovan is second year graduate student pursuing an M.S. in Associate Professor Anubhav Datta's research group, where her research pertains to the fabrication and testing of geometrically advanced blade configurations, such as the ROAMX blade. ROAMX belongs to the next class of revolutionary blade configurations aspiring to push to the boundaries of vertical flight that its predecessor, the Ingenuity blade, was able to achieve on the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. Her main goal is to help exceed the current capabilities of extraterrestrial vertical flight, specifically through testing the aeroelasticity of geometrically advanced blades and validating such data using a 3-D analysis software called X3D.

“The Vertical Flight Foundation's continuous dedication and support of rotorcraft students make such goals possible,” added Donovan. “And I am exceedingly grateful to be a recipient of a VFF scholarship.”

Grace Johnson received the Robert Head Scholarship, honoring the engineering pioneer from McDonnell/Hughes/McDonnell Douglas/Boeing.

Johnson is a junior studying aerospace engineering, and she is part of both the University Honors Program and the Aerospace Department Honors program. She works under Professor Norman Wereley in the Composites Research Laboratory, with a focus on tubular honeycomb structures for energy-absorption and crashworthiness applications. More specifically, she looks into the addition of buckling initiators within these structures, and their safety applications within launch and vertical flight vehicles.

In addition to her VFF scholarship, she was recently awarded a Society for the Advancement of Material Process Engineering (SAMPE) Student Leadership Experience Award.

William Magellan Ogle received the Hal Andrews Scholarship, which remembers a preeminent Navy aviation engineer, advisor and historian.

Ogle is a first-year master’s student studying rotorcraft engineering under advisor Associate Professor Anubhav Datta. He is a part of the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center where his research primarily focuses on high-speed tiltrotors. He earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech and previously worked at Boeing, Ridley Park on the V-22 Osprey program.

“I am inspired by the unique capabilities and complexities of helicopters and is passionate about designing the future of vertical lift,” said Ogle, who aims to return to industry after graduation to build the next generation of high-speed vertical lift aircraft.

Logan Tanner Swaisgood received the Prof. Alfred Gessow Scholarship, honoring a pioneer in the helicopter field at NACA/NASA and founder of the University of Maryland Rotorcraft Center.

Swaisgood is a second-year Ph.D. student conducting research with the Rotorcraft Center. While earning his B.S. in Aerospace Engineering at UMD, he conducted undergraduate research through the Aerospace Honors program with Associate Professor Anubhav Datta, studying the aerodynamics of airfoils designed for the Martian atmosphere.

As a graduate research assistant, Swaisgood continues his research under Datta, investigating CFD/CSD coupling solutions with the goal to improve the accuracy of the tools used to identify the stresses and strains acting on bodies in flight. He intends to validate his coupling procedure with vacuum chamber test data of next-generation Mars rotor blades. 

“My career goal is to further the exploration of Mars by developing new Mars helicopters that can carry out missions with more complex objectives,” said Swaisgood, who wants to work at NASA’s Ames Research Center post-graduation. “This scholarship will alleviate some of the financial pressures and enable me to dedicate myself fulltime toward pursuing my research.”

To learn more about the Vertical Flight Society’s Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarship Programs, visit: https://vtol.org/education/vertical-flight-foundation-scholarships/vertical-flight-foundation-scholarships-welcome   

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Engineering Students Twice Victorious at International Rotorcraft Design Competition
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April 8, 2024

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