Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarships

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Mark Kotwicz Herniczek

Carleton University

Mark Kotwicz Herniczek is currently a graduate research student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He graduated from the Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering program with a Chancellor’s Prestige Scholarship and a Senate Medal. During his undergraduate studies, he spent one year as an intern at the National Research Council of Canada’s Institute for Aerospace Research, where he co-authored a paper published by AHS on the subject of fatigue damage estimation for dynamic helicopter components. In his fourth year at Carleton University, he spearheaded efforts to increase blade efficiency of an RC helicopter for Carleton’s RUAS (Rotorcraft Unmanned Aerial System) capstone project. He presented results of the RUAS project at the 72nd annual AHS forum. He is currently pursuing his Master’s thesis within the Rotorcraft Research Group of Carleton University. His thesis is focused on developing analytical methods for modeling propeller aeroacoustics in an effort to reduce the noise signature of regional propeller aircraft. This work is pursued in collaboration with Pratt & Whitney Canada and within the Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN).

How did you get interested in vertical flight?

Growing up near an air force base, I was exposed to aircraft from very young age and quickly became fascinated with their speed, agility and engine roar. My father was a solo display pilot at the time, which allowed me to attend airshows up close and meet many of the display team crew members. The experience originally inspired me to become an air force pilot myself. However, upon entering high school, I became more interested in understanding the aerodynamics of flight and I decided to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering at Carleton University. It was in my third year at Carleton that my interest in rotorcraft first piqued with a course-held design competition. The goal of the competition was to achieve maximum lift given a certain motor and maximum blade diameter. My passion for vertical flight was then solidified the following year through Carleton’s RUAS capstone project, which aimed to increase the efficiency of a small scale UAV helicopter (representative of a standard commercial RC helicopter) while maintaining its low cost. Within the project, I took on the role of optimizing the rotor blades using Blade Element Momentum Theory (BEMT), which ultimately led to the paper I co-authored and presented at the 72nd annual AHS forum.

What impact has receiving the VFF scholarship had for you?

Receiving the VFF scholarship enabled me to attend AHS Forum 72 and helped pay for the tuition for my Master’s degree. Attending and presenting at Forum 72 was an inspiring experience. It provided validation for the relevance of my research to the vertical flight community and exposure to cutting edge rotorcraft research in a wide variety of fields.

Tell us about your future plans.

Once I complete my Master’s degree, I plan to enter the workforce for a few years to gain some experience and insight. Currently, I aim to work in a position related to noise and vibration reduction in either helicopters or aircraft to solidify my interest in the field before obtaining a PhD in aeroacoustics.

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