Penn State Vertical Lift Research Center of Excellence renewed for the sixth time



UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa .– The Penn State Vertical Lift Research Center of Excellence (VLRCOE) has received additional five-year funding under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. military, U.S. navy, and NASA. In its 25th year as one of three such centers in the United States, VLRCOE was awarded approximately $ 7.5 million to investigate 10 new tasks related to vertical lift technology and educational activities. related over the next five years. Penn State will cost $ 3.3 million for this work, totaling $ 10.8 million in new funding.

“The mission of the center is to understand and overcome the obstacles facing the vertical lift community, such as higher speeds, longer spans and lower operating costs for vertical lift vehicles,” said Edward Smith, director of VLRCOE and professor of aerospace engineering at Penn. State. “Now we have the good news that we have another five years of support from the major agencies. This funding helps us match the strengths and expertise of Penn State’s faculty and facilities with the questions and goals of vertical lift research.

Launched in 1996, the VLRCOE has successfully competed for ongoing funding every five years. While funding from the five-year cooperative agreement isn’t the center’s only source of funding, it’s what keeps the center holding its national title, which is shared with the University of Maryland and Georgia Tech.

This ten foot diameter hover support resides in a climatic chamber where aircraft icing conditions can be reproduced. The rotor can spin at up to 1,200 revolutions per minute at temperatures as cold as -20 degrees Celsius.

The contract also provides an additional mechanism through which Penn State can collaborate with partner universities to expand their impact in vertical elevator research and their work to train the next generation of vertical elevator engineers. For the 10 funded tasks, three partner universities were named: Auburn University, University of Tennessee and University of California, Davis. Faculty researchers at partner universities are all Penn State program alumni.

“Our work at VLRCOE is more than this contract,” said Smith, “The contract designates the center as one of the leading institutes in the country, but with it comes the expectation that we will use our facilities and our faculty to hire and recruit the best and brightest students.

Part of the funding will be used to recruit about fifteen students per year to conduct their research for a master’s or doctorate. Each student is co-counseled by more than one faculty member, often by advisory teams spread across Penn State and partner universities.

“Vertical lifting projects are incredibly multidisciplinary,” said Smith. “Issues of interest require the expertise of two or three faculty members from different areas of interest. The result is a much more effective and rewarding experience for students and faculty. “

A black pole sits in a metal tunnel.

The helicopter rotor hub maintains the blades in an aerodynamic position while connecting them to the generator which provides lift. This rotor hub is located in the water tunnel of the Applied Research Lab, where researchers can test a variety of environmental and situational stresses.

The most recently funded projects focus on the study and advancement of aeromechanics, flight dynamics and control, propulsion, safety and survivability. Citing the defense to deliver drones to Dragonfly, the quadrocopter that will help explore Saturn’s Titan moon, Smith said the potential discoveries will have limitless applications.

“Here at Penn State, we’ve been working on the vertical elevator since the 1960s; we’ve had the center since the 1990s – haven’t we figured it out yet? Smith asked. “Our vision is long term. People thought the horse and buggy were the height of technology until the automobile came along, and now we’ve gone from the Model T to the Tesla. With vertical flight there are challenges and profound changes that we have to face.

The funded projects are:

  • Ken Brentner, Executive Director of VLRCOE and Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Penn State
  • Seongkyu Lee, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of California, Davis
  • Eric Greenwood, Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Penn State
  • Mark Miller, Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Penn State
  • Jose Palacios, Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Penn State
  • James Coder, Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering, University of Tennessee
  • Nicholas Jaffa, Applied Research Laboratory, Penn State
  • David Reich, Applied Research Laboratory, Penn State
  • Sven Schmitz, Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Penn State
  • Douglas Wolfe, Applied Research Laboratory, Penn State
  • Namiko Yamamoto, Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Penn State
  • Joseph Horn, professor of aerospace engineering, Penn State
  • Ken Brentner, Executive Director of VLRCOE and Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Penn State

  • Joseph Horn, professor of aerospace engineering, Penn State

  • Umberto Saetti, Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Auburn University

  • Ken Brentner, Executive Director of VLRCOE and Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Penn State

  • Eric Greenwood, Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Penn State

  • Robert Bill, Research Associate, Aerospace Engineering, Penn State

  • Hans DeSmidt, Professor of Aerospace Engineering, University of Tennessee

  • David Hall, Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Penn State

  • Edward Smith, Director of VLRCOE and Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Penn State

  • Jose Palacios, Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Penn State

  • Douglas Wolfe, Applied Research Laboratory, Penn State

  • Jack Langelaan, professor of aerospace engineering, Penn State

  • Alan R. Wagner, Hartz Family Career Development Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Penn State

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College of Engineering Media Relations

Last updated on August 06, 2021


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