Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarships

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Elena Shrestha

University of Maryland College Park

Elena is a 4th year Ph.D student at the University of Maryland, College Park with a focus on Rotorcraft. She was awarded the VFF scholarship during both her undergraduate and graduate studies. She is a National Science Foundation Fellow and an Amelia Earhart Fellow. She was previously selected as one of Aviation Week & Space Technology’s Twenty20s and has received numerous awards and recognition for her work on developing the Cyclocopter Micro Air Vehicle. In 2014, her paper titled "Development of Control Strategies and Flight Testing of a Twin-Cyclocopter in Forward Flight" was awarded Best Paper in the Advanced Vertical Flight session at the 70th Annual AHS Forum. She is very interested in working with VTOL micro air vehicles (MAVs) and has participated in the AHS MAV Challenge for the past three years.

What impact has receiving the VFF scholarship had for you?

"I was encouraged by both my advisor and my mentor to apply for the scholarship throughout all three degrees (B.S, M.S, and PhD). Winning the VFF scholarship during my undergraduate studies motivated me to pursue an advanced degree in rotorcraft. The scholarship helped distinguish my graduate school application from others and introduced me to the rotorcraft community. During my graduate studies, winning the VFF scholarship helped me improve my chances of securing external fellowships and also alleviated some of my financial burdens."

What are some of your current projects or research interests?

"I designed and developed the first cycloidal rotor-based micro air vehicle (cyclocopter) to successfully hover and achieve forward flight, which was first presented at the MAV Challenge at AHS Forum 69. I've also derived a 6-DOF flight dynamics model and conducted systematic wind tunnel experiments to develop forward flight controls strategy."

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