Three Ph.D. students in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering have been awarded Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarships including Ruthvik Chandrasekaran, Joseph Robinson, and Paola Zanella. Founded as the American Helicopter Society in 1943, the Vertical Flight Society is a non-profit society for engineers, scientists and others working on vertical flight technology and awards its merit-based scholarship to the world’s most talented engineering students interested in vertical flight.
Born and raised in the small town of Hosur in Tamil Nadu, India, Ruthvik Chandrasekaran first received his bachelor’s degree from Armita School of Engineering in Coimbatore, India and his master’s degree from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kanpur, India. He has also earned an additional master’s degree from Georgia Tech and is now enrolled in the Ph.D. program within the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering. Applying to Georgia Tech was an obvious choice because Chandrasekaran wanted to work on helicopter rotor blade dynamics and aeroelasticity for his doctorate. He explained that Georgia Tech has some of the best professors in the rotorcraft field including his Ph.D. advisor, Professor Emeritus Dewey Hodges - a world-renowned expert on rotor blade mechanics. Chandrasekaran was awarded the Charles C. Crawford Scholarship. “Receiving this award was a huge boost to my morale,” said Chandrasekaran. “It felt great to be recognized by the top leadership in the rotorcraft field. It inspires me and makes me strive to contribute further to aviation.” Chandrasekaran’s thesis research is on variable speed helicopter rotors. Changing the rotating speed of a rotor based on flight condition could significantly improve its efficiency, however, it could also lead to severe vibration issues. Chandrasekaran’s research is focused on finding ways to mitigate these vibrations so that variable speed rotor technology can be used to save fuel. Chandrasekaran is planning on saving the scholarship money so that he can put it towards flying his family to Atlanta for his graduation ceremony. After graduation, Chandrasekaran hopes to work in the aerospace industry – anything from rotorcraft to rockets.
From Los Gatos, California, Joseph Robinson earned his bachelor’s degree in 2017 and his master’s degree in 2018 from Georgia Tech. He is now enrolled in the Ph.D. program in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering under his doctoral advisor professor Dimitri Mavris. Robinson’s sponsored research involves analyzing helicopter flight data records and developing new methods to detect unsafe events in flight. He is currently working on approach stability analysis, which involves determining how controlled the approaching landing is. These tools will be deployed to operators through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety, Accessibility, and Sustainability (PEGASAS) program so they can improve safety in their own operations. Robinson knew that the Daniel Guggenheim School was where he needed to be for his Ph.D. studies after participating in undergraduate research. He used the Wel Chong (Ben) Sim Memorial Scholarship funding to purchase a new laptop and is saving the rest for unexpected expenses. After graduation, Robinson hopes to work in research and development at an aviation company or work in a government lab.
Born and raised in Cittadella, Padua, Italy, Zanella earned her bachelor and first master’s degree from the University of Padua, Italy. She then earned a second master’s degree from Georgia Tech and is currently enrolled in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering Ph.D. program. Zanella’s thesis research is focused on improving helicopter safety, through the physics-based investigation of accidents related to loss of tail rotor effectiveness and the analysis of helicopter flight data. Currently, she is sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration, under the Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety, Accessibility, and Sustainability (PEGASAS) Center of Excellence. She is now doing an internship at the FAA, in which she is conducting several simulator analyses in order to increase the physics-based models used and obtain more reliable simulations. Zanella’s doctoral advisor is professor Dimitri Mavris and her co-advisor is professor J.V.R. Prasad. In addition to receiving a Vertical Flight Foundation's Jing Yen Scholarship for Cost Awareness scholarship, Zanella was recognized as the most qualified applicant who showed interest in improving the affordability of rotorcraft. After graduation in August, Zanella plans to work in the aerospace industry.