Press Release: VFS Announces $100,000 in 2019 VFF Scholarships

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Julie M. Gibbs


Vertical Flight Society Announces 2019 Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarship Recipients 
Record $100,000 in Scholarships Awarded to 28 Students 

Fairfax, Virginia, April 3, 2019 — The Vertical Flight Society is pleased to announce its 2019 Vertical Flight Foundation (VFF) scholarship recipients. Scholarships totaling $100,000 are being awarded this year to 28 of the world’s most talented engineering students interested in vertical flight.

“As part of our 75th anniversary celebrations, we are delighted to provide a record number of scholarships this year for the record total of $100,000,” said VFS Executive Director Mike Hirschberg. “Since 1977, our Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarships have helped inspire generations of students to pursue careers in vertical flight, with many now holding leadership positions in industry, academia and government.”

The following are this year’s awardees, who will be recognized at the VFS Grand Awards Banquet on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. The banquet is one of the highlights of the Vertical Flight Society’s 75th Annual Forum & Technology Display at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (see

Bachelor Degree Recipients
  • Mr. Colin Hamilton, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Frank N. Piasecki Scholarship, honoring the inventor of the tandem rotor helicopter. 
  • Mr. Derek Anthony Safieh Matheu, University of Maryland: Marat Tishchenko Scholarship, honoring the former head of the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, and professor at Moscow Aviation Institute and University of Maryland
  • Mr. Casey Matsler, University of Texas at Arlington: Jeff Pino Scholarship, named for the retired Master US Army Aviator, former Bell Helicopter executive and retired Sikorsky Aircraft CEO. 
  • Ms. Laura Palmer, Virginia Polytechnic Institute: John J. Schneider Scholarship, honoring the memory of a preeminent VTOL aircraft designer and historian. 
  • Mr. Nicholas Rehm, University of Maryland: Alfred and Elaine Gessow Scholarship, honoring a pioneer in the helicopter field at NACA/NASA and founder of the University of Maryland rotorcraft center.
  • Ms. Kirsten Reid, University of Michigan: Glidden S. Doman Scholarship, named for one of the six original American helicopter pioneers. 
  • Ms. Soo Yun Rhee, University of Alabama in Huntsville: Joseph P. Cribbins Scholarship, honoring the individual who had perhaps the most influence and long-term impact on US Army Aviation logistics in the 20th century.
  • Mr. Joel White, Texas A&M University: Barry J. Baskett Scholarship, honoring the memory of a career US Army engineer who led Aviation Engineering, and later managed the Aviation Technology Base Program. 
Master Degree Recipients
  • Mr. Venkatakrishnan Iyer, The Pennsylvania State University: Dr. Richard M. Carlson Scholarship, named for the former Hiller and Lockheed engineer who became the chief of the Army’s Advanced Systems Research and Analysis Office at Ames Research Center.
  • Mr. Abhishek Kumar Shastry, University of Maryland: Hal Andrews Scholarship, which remembers a preeminent Navy aviation engineer, advisor and historian. 
  • Mr. Lokesh Silwal, Auburn University: Eugene K. Liberatore Scholarship, which honors the memory of a pioneering helicopter engineer, author and historian. 
  • Mr. Sourav Sinha, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur: Henrich Focke Scholarship, honoring the creator of the world's first practical helicopter.
  • Mr. Austin Thai, Boston University: Raymond W. Prouty Scholarship, which honors the memory of a pioneering helicopter engineer with a lifelong commitment to educating the rotorcraft community.
  • * Mr. Frederick Tsai, University of Maryland: Bell Scholarship, provided by a generous VFF endowment from the company. 
  • Ms. Ariel Walter, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Dr. Michael P. Scully Scholarship, in memory of the US Army Senior Research Engineer Emeritus and VFS Fellow.
  • Mr. Yu Zheng, Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics: Friedrich Straub Memorial Scholarship, honoring the former senior manager of dynamics technology and technical fellow of The Boeing Company. 
Doctorate Degree Recipients
  • Mr. Ahmad Waleed Amer, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Larry Doyle Scholarship, honoring the former Sikorsky Aircraft chief of flight instrumentation.
  • Mr. Brian Eberle, Georgia Institute of Technology: Charles C. Crawford Scholarship, named in memory of the former Georgia Tech student, Army development leader and GTRI researcher. 
  • Mr. Daniel Escobar, University of Maryland: Geoff Byham Scholarship, honoring an architect of advanced rotor aerodynamics at Westland Helicopters in Yeovil, England.
  • Mr. Feyyaz Guner, Georgia Institute of Technology: Dr. E. Roberts (Bob) Wood Scholarship, named for a preeminent aeromechanics engineer and beloved professor who inspired generations. 
  • Mr. Thomas A. Herrmann, University of Maryland: Robert Head Scholarship, the pioneering McDonnell/McDonnell Douglas/Boeing engineer
  • Mr. Zhongqi Jia, University of California, Davis: Dr. John Zuk Scholarship, honoring the NASA engineer who was a champion of civil tiltrotor technology and applications.
  • Mr. Matthew Misiorowski, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Bob Lynn Scholarship, named for the Bell Helicopter engineer and executive, and AHS leader par excellence. 
  • Mr. Umberto Saetti, The Pennsylvania State University: Prof. Barnes McCormick Memorial Scholarship, honoring Penn State’s venerable Boeing Professor Emeritus.
  • Mr. Cory Seidel, Washington University in St. Louis: St. Louis Chapter Scholarship, which was generously supported by members of the VFS St. Louis Chapter. 
  • * Ms. Aarohi B. Shah, Georgia Institute of Technology: Dr. Jing Yen VFF Scholarship for Cost Awareness, given to the most qualified applicant who shows interest in improving the affordability of rotorcraft.
  • Mr. Regis Thedin, The Pennsylvania State University: Tom Wood Honorary Scholarship, which recognizes more than 50 years of technical contributions to Bell Helicopter by Mr. Wood.
  • Mr. Sihong Yan, The Pennsylvania State University: Leonard J. LeVasser Scholarship, named in honor of the famous Piasecki/Vertol/Boeing test pilot and director of flight test.

Each of the Bachelor scholarships includes a cash award of $3,000; the Masters students receive $3,550 each and Doctorate scholarship winners each receive $3,650. In addition, the top graduate candidates (marked above with an asterisk) have received special recognition. Mr. Tsai of University of Maryland will receive a total of $5,000 for the Bell Vertical Flight Scholarship, while Ms. Shah of Georgia Tech was selected for the $6,000 Dr. Jing Yen Scholarship for Cost Awareness.

The Vertical Flight Foundation was established in 1967 as the philanthropic arm of the Vertical Flight Society. Since 1977, the merit-based scholarship program has been a great success story: over 500 scholarships have been awarded since that time. The program has been greatly expanded in recent years, with the number of recipients doubling in the last decade, and the total annual scholarship disbursement tripling. Since 2012, more than 175 VFF scholarships totaling over $550,000 have been awarded.

For more information on the Vertical Flight Foundation or to donate to this important cause, please visit our VFF microsite at A list of all past VFF scholarship winners and success stories are also available.

VFF and VFS are both recognized by the US Internal Revenue Service as 501(c)(3) charities. VFS covers all overhead costs of administration and accounting, so 100% of every tax-deductible contribution to VFF goes directly to student scholarships.

Founded as the American Helicopter Society in 1943, the Vertical Flight Society is the global non-profit society for engineers, scientists and others working on vertical flight technology. For 75 years, the Society has led technical, safety, advocacy and other important initiatives, and has been the primary forum for interchange of information on vertical flight technology.

This press release is also available as a pdf.

The Vertical Flight Society
2701 Prosperity Avenue, Suite 210, Fairfax, VA 22031 USA
phone: 1-703-684-6777; fax: 1-703-739-9279
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