Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarships

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Henry Jia

University of California Davis

Henry (Zhongqi) Jia received his bachelor's degree from the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) with a double major in mechanical and aerospace engineering in 2014, and his master degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) with a major in aerospace engineering in 2016. After obtaining his master's degree, he joined Professor Seongkyu Lee’s Aeroacoustic Lab at UC Davis as a doctoral student in the fall of 2016 to work on a VLRCOE project named “Fundamental Aeroacoustics of Coaxial Helicopter Rotors”, while collaborating with Professor Kenneth Brentner’s research group from Penn State University Park and researchers from Army’s Aeroflightdynamics Directorate at NASA Ames. His primary research focus is on rotorcraft aerodynamics and aeroacoustics, particularly high speed impulsive (HSI) and blade vortex interaction (BVI) noise, of XH-59 a lift-offset coaxial rotor in high speed forward flight. Due to his research in rotorcraft aerodynamics and aeroacoustics, he became one of two graduate students to win the 2017 N&M Sarigul-Klijn Flight Research/Space Engineering Award, a summer research fellowship given to top graduate students who conduct research in flight-related topics from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC Davis. In 2016, he was also selected as one of ten students among 360 applicants by the NASA Ames Center to participate in the NASA Multidisciplinary Aeronautics Research Team Initiative (MARTI) program. During the summer of 2017, he worked as an intern for the Aeroflightdynamics Directorate at NASA Ames to continue his research on the XH-59 rotor.

How did you get interested in vertical flight?

"In the first place, I would like to thank my advisor Dr. Seongkyu Lee who offered me the great opportunity to join the Aeroacoustics Lab at UC Davis and work on a VLRCOE project. There are a lot of academic institutes conducting research on small scaled unmanned vertical takeoff vehicles in the United States, but only a few would investigate problems related to large scale helicopter or rotorcraft. When my advisor first introduced the background of lift-offset coaxial rotors to me, I was excited but also amazed that only a few research was conducted on lift-offset coaxial rotors. My advisor has truly motivated me to conduct research on rotorcraft applied aerodynamics and aeroacoustics, and expanded my knowledge and technical skills. I found my research very compelling and could be applied to many applications which could impact the vertical flight community in the near future."

What impact has receiving the VFF scholarship had for you?

"When I first applied to the Vertical Flight Foundation (VFF) scholarship, I never thought that I would win this award. I was very excited when I heard the news that I have been selected for one of AHS International’s coveted VFF scholarships. It was also my first time to attend an AHS forum and the AHS International Grand Awards Banquet to receive my award. I also had the opportunity to attend several technical presentations related rotorcraft aerodynamics and aeroacoustics. I could not wait to present my research in front of the technical experts at the next AHS Forum. Overall, winning the VFF scholarship has further boosted my research interest in vertical flight and encouraged me to pursue a career related to vertical flight."

What are some of your current projects or research interests?

"Since the first massive production of the classical helicopter R-4 by the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in 1942, there has been a continuous development in helicopter design with persuasion to improve helicopter performance. The evaluation of helicopter performance primarily depends on a helicopter’s payload, range, flight speed, hover, and endurance capabilities. Among advanced rotorcraft designs, the coaxial configuration with rotors rotating in opposite directions can achieve high forward flight speed while increasing the maximum payload. Since the upper and lower rotors of a coaxial system rotate in opposite directions, the torques of upper and lower rotors will mutually cancel each other to achieve the state of equilibrium. This unique characteristic of coaxial rotors has eliminated the need of a tail rotor or an anti-torque device, which results in more design freedom. However, the aerodynamic interactions between the upper and lower rotors can generate impulsive noise due to blade-vortex interactions (BVI) especially during descending and maneuvering flights. My research will provide a better understanding of impulsive noise sources during high speed forward flight, which can give insights to design advanced noise control techniques and further improve the overall design of a lift-offset coaxial helicopter."

What do Henry's mentors have to say?

"Henry is my first Ph.D. student at UC Davis. He contacted me when I just started a job at UC Davis as an assistant professor. He showed a lot of interest in rotorcraft aerodynamics and aeroacoustics. He is now working on a project about co-axial rotor aerodynamics and aeroacoustics that is funded by the US Army through the VLRCOE project. He showed an excellent progress on his research in a relatively short time. He learned CFD mesh generation and Helios (OVERFLOW) simulations from the ground. Henry is so active in learning from people and reading papers, and he does not hesitate to reach out experts or researchers in the US Army research lab or NASA to get advice and help when needed. He is respectful to professors and senior researchers and he is very nice to work together. By all aspects, he is an ideal Ph.D. student. I am so happy and lucky to have him as my Ph.D. student. I have no doubt that he will become a very successful and outstanding researcher in rotorcraft field in the future."

Prof. Seongkyu Lee
University of California, Davis

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