Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarships

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Byron Patterson

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

How did you get interested in vertical flight?

I have long had a passion for anything aircraft - whether it be small general aviation planes, the complex V-22 Osprey, or the high-soaring SR-71 - the ability of these vehicles to take flight has always amazed me. My first job out of college was with the good folks at Boeing in Ridley Park, and this is where I got my first fully-immersive rotorcraft experience. While serving in the Flight Controls group, my exposure to the complex dynamics and flight control techniques fascinated me, giving me an appreciation for the flight of helicopters. My time at Boeing solidified my desire to be involved in the rotorcraft/vertical lift industry.

What impact has receiving the VFF scholarship had for you?

The VFF scholarship is something that I was, and am continually, grateful for, as the scholarship allowed me to focus on my studies and thesis work. Outside of this scholarship, I would have had to take on more teaching assistantship positions, which would have limited my time to focus on the topics that I found most interesting.

What are some of your current projects or research interests?

The overarching goal of my graduate thesis work was to develop a controller to reduce higher harmonic vibration that has always plagued the helicopter. Building on the controller developed by my advisor, Dr. Steven Hall, I applied the Linear Parameter Varying controller synthesis technique to the helicopter vibration problem, with the purpose of designing a controller with pure rejection of vibration characteristics and guaranteed stability criteria throughout the flight regime. The outcome from this effort resulted in a controller with improved performance (better vibration rejection) relative to previous higher harmonic controllers.

Since concluding my graduate work, I have been working for a business strategy consulting firm, whose singular focus is the aerospace and defense industry. In this capacity, we support aerospace companies throughout the value chain on high-level strategic decisions, such as what market spaces could the business be entering and/or ways to shape the business' product portfolio for future demand. Our clients include major helicopter OEMs, and many companies with ‘vertical-lift’ aspirations, reflecting the burgeoning applications of unmanned aircraft.

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