Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarships

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Bryce Connelly

Pennsylvania State University

Bryce Connelly received his BS degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. Before attending college, he worked as an intern for NAVSEA, where he worked in 3D modeling and virtual reality environments. This experience helped ensure that engineering was for him. After his sophomore year in college, Bryce worked in the Hot Section Engineering group for Pratt and Whitney, where he worked with turbojet structural analysis across many engine programs. During junior year, he took on a co-op opportunity with NASA Langley Research Center to design, fabricate, and build a laboratory scale ice adhesion screening tool. The device was developed at Penn State, and will be delivered to Langley Research Center for permanent use. While at school, Bryce worked with a research group focused on deicing system and icing physics. His research focuses on ice adhesion physics for various materials. At Penn State, Bryce participated in intramural sports with his friends and plays in men’s lacrosse leagues in the summers. Also, Bryce was a member of the American Helicopter Society Penn State Student Chapter, where he helps with event organization and volunteers at PSU STEM rotor day.

How did you get interested in vertical flight?

"I became fascinated with airplanes when I played youth football. There was an RC field nearby and I would watch the planes go overhead during practice breaks. Within a year of seeing the model planes, I had built a small RC plane and joined the club to fly before practice. I continued to learn about airplanes, and watch rocket launches. One time on a trip to Florida, I recall waking up early in the AM to see a space shuttle launch off in the distance. Coming to Penn State, I knew I wanted to be a part of the group that designs such complex aerospace vehicles. I quickly joined a rotorcraft icing research group and my liking toward helicopter has taken off from there. Penn State has a strong aerospace department and holds many opportunities to get involved in rotorcraft research. A thank you is deserved to Dr. Jose Palacios and his team at Penn State involved in rotorcraft research. Also a special thank you to my parents, Carrie and Brett, and sister, Bridget, for supporting my interests and pushing me to be my best."

What impact has receiving the VFF scholarship had for you?

"With any college experience comes the multitude of expenses. Receiving scholarships from groups like AHS make the work valuable knowing that someone has seen your personal efforts. The scholarship relieves the burden that is college tuition, and only makes me want to pursue my degree further. This generous scholarship also made it possible for me to attend the AHS Forum 72. The forum had many enticing exhibits and great presenters from the rotorcraft industry."

Tell us about your future plans.

"I plan to obtain a job in the system flight test world. The hands-on experience while researching at Penn State really makes flight testing the next goal for my career."

Update: Since February 2017, Bryce has been working at SpaceX as a Test Operations Engineer.

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