Press Release: VFS Announces 2022 Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarship Recipients




Julie M. Gibbs

(703) 684-6777

Vertical Flight Society Announces 2022 Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarship Recipients 
$100,000 in Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarships, Awarded to 22 Students

Fairfax, Virginia, April 1, 2022 — The Vertical Flight Society is pleased to announce its 2022 Vertical Flight Foundation (VFF) scholarship recipients. Scholarships totaling $100,000 are being awarded this year to 22 of the world’s most talented engineering students interested in vertical flight.

“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, with more 600 scholarships awarded to date,” said VFS Executive Director Mike Hirschberg. "Through the incredible generosity of our members, we have been able to greatly expand the program in recent years. Over just the past decade, we have now awarded 222 scholarships worth more than $800,000.” 

The following are this year’s awardees, who will be recognized at the VFS Grand Awards Breakfast which will take place on Thursday, May 12, 2022. The award breakfast will be one of the highlights of the Vertical Flight Society's 78th Annual Forum & Technology Display, taking place from May 10-12, 2022 in Fort Worth, Texas (see

Bachelor Degree Recipients

  • Eva Alexandrova, University of MarylandAlfred and Elaine Gessow Scholarship, honoring a pioneer in the helicopter field at NACA/NASA and founder of the University of Maryland rotorcraft center
  • Geoffrey Karli, Pennsylvania State UniversityFrank N. Piasecki Scholarship, honoring the inventor of the tandem rotor helicopter
  • Jayden Slotnick, Pennsylvania State UniversityFriedrich Straub Scholarship, honoring the former senior manager of dynamics technology and technical fellow of The Boeing Company
  • Radu Teodorescu, University of MarylandJoseph 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
  • Jonah Whitt*, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Bell Textron Scholarship, provided by a generous VFF endowment from the company and awarded to the top overall top-scoring winner

Master Degree Recipients

  • Jessica Beyer, Pennsylvania State UniversityProf. Barnes McCormick Scholarship, honoring Penn State’s venerable Boeing Professor Emeritus
  • Jahnvi Hariani, Georgia Institute of TechnologyCharles C. Crawford Scholarship, named in memory of the former Army Aviation development leader, GTRI researcher and past VFS Board Chair
  • Noam Kaplan, University of Maryland: Erik Oltheten Scholarship, honoring the late Technical Fellow for Avionics Systems at Bell Textron
  • Nicholas Paternostro, 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
  • Derek Anthony Safieh Matheu, Georgia Institute of Technology (2-time recipient)Hal Andrews Scholarship, which remembers a preeminent Navy aviation engineer, advisor and historian
  • Shawn Kin Yip Lim, Nanyang Technological University: Virasak Family Scholarship, supported by longtime VFS member Jacques Virasak
  • Alexander Stillman, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute:  James Howlett Scholarship, named for the Sikorsky handling qualities and flight dynamics simulation leader and visionary

Doctorate Degree Recipients

  • Carlota Bonnet, Georgia Institute of TechnologyEvan Sampatacos Scholarship, remembering the former McDonnell Douglas/Boeing engineer
  • Aaron Crawford, Georgia Institute of Technology: Dr. Dewey H. Hodges Scholarship, awarded to a top Aeromechanics student, honoring the beloved professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, decorated engineer, and one of the foremost aerospace researchers of his generation.
  • Chloe Johnson, University of Austin at TexasTom Wood Honorary Scholarship, which recognizes more than 50 years of technical contributions to Bell by Mr. Wood
  • Venkatakrishnan Iyer*, Pennsylvania State University (2-time recipient) *:  Dr. Jing Yen VFF Scholarship for Cost Awareness, given to the most qualified applicant who shows interest in improving the affordability of rotorcraft.
  • Anna Aleksandra Kostek, Leibniz University Hannover: Dr. Hans Mark Scholarship, honoring the memory of the influentrial NASA and defense leader, and educator
  • Orazio Pinti, University of Southern California, Los Angeles: Walter J. Hodgson Scholarship, named for the late US Air Force and Hughes Helicopter test pilot
  • Neelanga Thelasingha, Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteRobert Head Scholarship, honoring the engineering pioneer from McDonnell/Hughes/McDonnell Douglas/Boeing
  • Nikos Panagiotis Trembois, University of California, DavisDr. Richard M. Carlson Scholarship, former Hiller and Lockheed engineer who became the chief of the Army's Advanced Systems Research and Analysis Office at Ames Research Center
  • Jean-Pierre Theron, Pennsylvania State UniversityM.A. “Tony” McVeigh Scholarship, honoring the memory of the Boeing advanced rotorcraft designer and mentor
  • Nicholas Zhu, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University: Ed Austin Scholarship, honoring the contributions and memory of the late US Army Aviation aerospace engineer

Each of the Bachelor scholarships includes a cash award of $3,750; the Masters students receive $4,000 each and Doctorate scholarship winners each receive $5,000. In addition, the top candidates (marked above with an asterisk) have received special recognition. Jonah Whitt, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will receive a total of $6,000 for the Bell Scholarship, provided by a generous VFF endowment from the company and awarded to the top overall scoring VFF recipient. Venkatakrishnan Iyer, Pennsylvania State University, is receiving $6,000 as the winner of the Dr. Jing Yen VFF Scholarship for Cost Awareness, given to the most qualified applicant who shows interest in improving the affordability of rotorcraft. 

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. 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 nearly 80 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
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phone: +1-703-684-6777
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