Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarships

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Daiju Uehara

University of Texas Austin

Daiju Uehara is currently a PhD student in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. After obtaining a B. Eng. at the University of Tokyo in 2014, he joined Prof. Jayant Sirohi's research group with a focus on a coaxial counter-rotating rotor system.

How did you get interested in vertical flight?

"I was born on the small island of Okinawa, located on the southern end of Japan. VTOL has played a vital role in rescue for emergency and disaster in the island because there are many places on the island where no vehicle can approach except for VTOL aircraft. Watching commercial and military helicopters fly across the sky, I began to have a keen interest in the aerospace technology and decided to learn rotorcraft engineering."

What impact has receiving the VFF scholarship had for you?

"Receiving the VFF scholarship last year as a MS student was the first great opportunity for me to be recognized in rotorcraft community. The scholarship this year as a PhD student helped me a lot to apply to summer intern positions, and I was lucky enough to have an intern position at NASA JPL to work on numerical modeling of energy estimation of rotary VTOL planetary exploration. This is truly a-dream-come-true moment for me and is one of my biggest impacts in my aerospace career. I am so grateful for being a 2-time recipient of this scholarship."

What are some of your current projects or research interests?

"At Forum 74, I presented research outcomes from the deformation measurement and modal parameter identification of an extremely flexible rotor blade using a combined digital image correlation technique and operational modal analysis algorithm. The work has now been extended to a 2-m diameter model-scale coaxial counter-rotating rotor system with a focus on understanding transient blade passage loads of a coaxial rotor. Its results will be presented in the upcoming 44th European Rotorcraft Forum in 2018. My ultimate goal for research is to create an algorithm or experimental methodology to reconstruct the aerodynamic forces acting on helicopter blades from structural response data."

Tell us about your future plans.

"I wish to take on roles which solve challenging problems and accelerate the development of next generation rotorcraft. The prospect of becoming a rotorcraft engineer in industry or any institution after graduation excites me."

What do Daiju's mentors have to say?

"Daiju has been working towards his PhD under my supervision for over four years now. It is hard to work on rotor dynamics and modal analysis and even harder to do it while picking up a new language. In the first year, he not only excelled in academics but also learnt and practiced English to such an extent that his now fluent in both spoken English and technical writing. Daiju is one of the hardest working persons that I know. In addition to his class work, he also spent a great deal of time learning the experimental techniques that he is now an expert in. Due to his dedication, hard work and attention to detail, Daiju has made significant contributions to his research area; he is a well-regarded teaching assistant and has also made international connections with the rotorcraft community in JAXA."

Dr. Jayant Sirohi
University of Texas at Austin

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