Creating the Future Vertical Workforce

The Vertical Flight Society leads advocacy efforts to advance vertical flight, bringing together members from industry, academia and government to tackle the toughest challenges. 

The VTOL workforce is at a critical juncture. At the same time that the US Department of Defense has kicked off several multi-billion dollar acquisition efforts and companies struggle to hire hundreds of additional talented VTOL engineers every year, the Electric VTOL Revolution also requires hundreds of new engineers per company to continue gathering momentum. VFS forecasts 10,000 additional engineers are needed in the next decade to support planned military and civil rotorcraft developments, as well the burgeoning eVTOL / urban air mobility (UAM) market. 

VFS is publishing a series of white papers on solutions. The first has already been completed:

Additional resources:

The biggest challenge facing the entire rotorcraft industry is the competition for [STEM] talent with non-traditional defense firms like Amazon and Google, which can offer substantially more money. Right now, many of the major rotorcraft primes are undertaking large efforts to hire engineering talent to work on clean sheet designs of new products and lines.


In addition, VFS organized the Agility Prime Launch Webinar Panel on University Research & Education: How to Build the eVTOL Workforce (on YouTube), May 1, 2020 

Moderator: Mike Hirschberg, Executive Director, Vertical Flight Society 

Mike Hirschberg has served as the Executive Director of the Vertical Flight Society (VFS), the global non-profit professional society for those working to advance vertical flight, since 2011. He has worked for nearly 30 years on advanced technology development in the aerospace industry, primarily in vertical flight. Hirschberg is an Associate Fellow and Lifetime Member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS).

Presentation: University Research & Education: How to Build the eVTOL Workforce (2MB PDF)

Prof. Marilyn J. Smith, Director, Vertical Lift Research Center of Excellence (VLRCOE), Georgia Institute of Technology

Prof. Smith leads the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Army-Navy-NASA Vertical Lift Research Center of Excellence. With more than 170 publications in aeromechanics, Smith serves on the editorial boards of four highly-ranked aerospace journals and is currently the VFS Deputy Technical Director for Aeromechanics, becoming the overall VFS Technical Director this July. She is a Fellow of VFS, AIAA and RAeS, and is on the Board of Directors of VFS and the Vertical Lift Consortium.

Presentation: Agile, Innovative (e)VTOL Education for the US (2MB PDF)

Prof. Carlos E. S. Cesnik, Clarence L. (Kelly) Johnson Professor; and Director, Active Aeroelasticity and Structures Research Laboratory, University of Michigan

Prof. Cesnik is the Director of the University of Michigan Active Aeroelasticity and Structures Research Laboratory. He has 30+ years of industry and academic experience in the field of aeroelasticity with a focus on multi-physics modeling, analysis, design, simulation and experimentation of different classes of aircraft, and has over 350 publications. Cesnik is a Fellow of AIAA, VFS and RAeS, a Lifetime Member of AIAA and VFS, and is AIAA’s Director for the Aerospace Design and Structures Group.

Presentation: Development of an Intellectually Responsive Aerospace Workforce for the Emerging AAM Enterprise (12MB PDF)

Prof. Farhan Gandhi, Rosalind and John J. Redfern Jr.,’33 Endowed Chair in Aerospace Engineering; Aerospace Program Director; and Director, Center for Mobility with Vertical Lift (MOVE), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Prof. Gandhi is the Director of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Aerospace Program and Director of RPI’s Center for Mobility with Vertical Lift (MOVE). His research focuses on VTOL aeromechanics and advanced VTOL aircraft configurations, and he has authored over 290 technical papers in these areas. His research group at RPI currently comprises of 2 research scientists and 14 graduate students. Gandhi is a Fellow of AIAA and VFS and serves on the VFS Technical Council.

Presentation: Thoughts on eVTOL Workforce Development (1MB PDF)


Posted 2020-04-22; updated 2020-05-07