UMD Submissions to the
VFS Student Design Competition

Every year since 1984, a student helicopter design competition has been co-sponsored by the American Helicopter Society, International, and the rotorcraft industry. Students from the University of Maryland first took part in 1988, placing third, but remained absent from the competition for 10 years until, in 1998, Andy Bernhard and a group of other graduate students of the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center revived interest in it. Since then, Maryland teams have participated every year, winning first place in fifteen out of the nineteen competitions, over universities such as the Georgia Institute of Technology, the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, and the U.S Air Force Institute of Technology. The students develop the design during a one-semester class in Helicopter Design (ENAE 634) offered by the Department of Aerospace Engineering in the spring of each year. The class is co-taught by Professor Inderjit Chopra and Senior Research Scientist Vengalattore Nagaraj.

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998

Licorn, 1st Place (2021)

Team: Dilhara Jayasundara, Erik Scott, Andrew Collar, Spencer Fishman, Animesh Shastry

Challenge: To develop an unmanned vertical lift concept that can deliver, at high speed, up to 50 kg payloads to end-user sites up to 50 km radius, and to logistics centers up to 200 km away. The sizing is such that the vehicle can make a difference within a future pandemic or natural disaster. The design has to include only 2020 technologies in order to support an initial entry into service in 2025. A special emphasis needs to be placed on system safety.

Elico, 1st Place (2020)

Team: James Sutherland, Robert Brown, Ehiremen Ebewele, Emily Fisler, Katie Krohmaly, Jehnae Linkins, Koushik Marepally, Austin Prete, Ilya Semenov

Challenge: To design a VTOL vehicle based on Leonardo's Aerial Screw concept, studying and demonstrating the consistency of its physics and potential feasibility. The aircraft must carry 1 pilot or passanger (60kg) and the design mission is: take-off vertically, fly for at least one minute (covering at least 20 m) and land vertically. The concept is honoring the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Caladrius, 1st Place (2019)

Team: Seyhan Gul, Ravi Lumba, Abhishek Shastry, Mrinalgouda Patil, Shashank Maurya, Amy Morin, Nishant Nemani

Challenge: To design a rotorcraft capable of performing rescue missions on the highest altitudes in the world. The mission includes a 30min hover at the top of Mount Everest (29,100 ft) with a payload of 575 kg. The mission must be less than 3 hrs and can include a possible refuel stopover.

Metaltail, 1st Place (2018)

Team: Fred Tsai, Eric Solomon, Chris O'Reilly, Brandyn Phillips, Vera Klimchenko, Alex Costenoble, and Cheng Chi

Challenge: To design a reconfigurable VTOL aircraft to operate in a megacity-type environment with a payload of 100kg or higher. The aircraft must have a minimum cruise speed of 333 km/h and maximum gross takeoff weight of 600kg. 

Elysium, 1st Place (2017)

Team: Daniel Escobar, Tyler Sinotte, Peter Oas, Bumseok Lee, Brent Mills, Dylan Jude, William Craig

Challenge: To design an unmanned aircraft capable of hover for a cumulative duration of 24 hours inside three hover stations separated by a distance of 0.54 nm (1 km). The aircraft must be able to withstand a helicopter operating environment throughout the mission duration and carry a simulated passenger weighing 176.4 lb (80 kg).

Halcyon, 1st Place (2016)

Team: Lauren Trollinger, Olivia Gonzalez, Yong Su Jung, Timothy Kreutzfeldt, Eliza Perez-Sanchez, Richard Quinones, Luke Smith, Br. Marius Strom

Challenge: To design a hover-capable autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle capable of delivering 500 lb (230 kg) of emergency aid to South American earthquake victims after deployment from the cargo bay of a C-130J Super Hercules.

AirEZ, 1st Place (2015)

Team: Stacy Sidle, Christopher Bogdanowicz, Brandon Gudenius, Daigo Shishika, Xing Wang, Justin Winslow

Challenge: To design a small, autonomous aircraft able to provide rapid delivery of small cargos directly to the point of need.

Kestrel (2014)

Team: Elena Shrestha, Michael Avera, Camli Badrya, Jonathan Chambers, Tyler Fean, Chin Gian Hooi

Challenge:  To design a vertical-take-off-and-landing experimental aircraft with exceptional performance in vertical and cruise flight, and operational capability through transition from vertical to forward flight.

HeliX, 1st Place (2013)

Team: Elizabeth Weiner, Bharath Govindarajan, Nishan Jain, Tejaswi Jarugumilli, Benjamin Jimenez, Zachary Kaler, James Lankford, Erik Levin, Jaime Reel

Challenge: To design a rotorcraft for the purpose of rescuing and providing aid to victims of a natural disaster. This vehicle needs to have a large payload capability and on-board equipment to ensure safe rescues in unpredictable environments.

Dart, 1st Place (2012)

Team: Anish Sydney, Mathieu Amiraux, Jonathan Elliott, Joseph Schmaus, Conor Stahlhut, William Staruk, Nitin Sydney

Challenge: To design a helicopter for the purpose of air racing in a prescribed pylon course. This helicopter must be capable of high load factors without sacrificing foward speed, fuel efficiency, or safety of the pilot and spectators.

Excalibur, 1st Place (2011)

Team: Aaron M. Harrington, Kyle Eide, Tarandeep S. Kalr, Joseph Milluzzo, Pranay Seshadri

Challenge: To design a versatile vertical lift aircraft with exceptional performance in search and rescue, insertion, and resupply missions.

Goliath, 1st Place (2010)

Team: Benjamin Berry, Graham Bowen-Davies, David Mayo, David Pfeifer, Vincent Posbie, Ananth Sridharan

Challenge: To design a dual-aircraft vertical-lift platform able to transport payloads that exceed the current weight capacity of individual rotorcraft, focusing on the system concept – load lifting device(s), control scheme, and multiaircraft system stability – rather than a particular aircraft or payload.

Griffin, 2nd Place (2009)

Team: Timothy Lee, Louise Ahure, Alex Ditko, Eric Greenwood, Ria Malhan, Kumar Ravichandran, Anand Saxena

Challenge: To design a non-conventional rotor/drive system for a helicopter, starting from a current, in-service design with MTOW between 3500 and 5500 kgm, and including all necessary subsystems that will endow the new design with improved performance in terms of speed, range, payload, endurance and noise signature.

Volterra, 1st Place (2008)

Team: Brandon Bush, Choong Yun Lee, Jeong Hwan Sa, Cal Sargent, Rick Sickenberger, Monica Syal, Evan Ulrich, Nick Wilson

Challenge: To design an advanced, short-range, medium-speed, transport VTOL concept, capable of operating from an uprepared area, and which minimizes energy consumption and the complete pollution chain throughout the entire life cycle of the aircraft (manufacturing, operation, maintenance and end-of-life recycling), with initial operational capability in 2020.

Triton, 2nd Place (2007)

Team: Benjamin Silbaugh, Smita Bhadra, Joseph Coker, Vikram Hrishikeshavan, Asitav Mishra, Christopher Medic

Challenge: To design an advanced, manned VTOL Approach and Recovery Vehicle (ARV) that is capable of operating from a submersible vehicle in support of Special Operations Forces, and an advanced Unmanned Escort Vehicle that is capable of supporting the operations of the ARV.

Penguin, 2nd Place (2006)

Team: Peter Copp, Moble Benedict, Bryant Craig, Brandon Fitchett, Nitin Gupta, Arun Jose, Jishnu Keshavan, Shyam Menon

Challenge: To design a two-seat, single-engine turbine training helicopter with operating characteristics representative of the world's turbine helicopter fleet, while being cost-competitive with current piston-engined training helicopters, along with the conceptual design of a low-cost turbine engine.

Atlas, 1st Place (2005)

Team: Benjamin Hein, Tim Beasman, Anne Brindejonc, Anirban Chaudhuri, Eric Parsons, Nicholas Rosenfeld, Eric Schroeder, Eric Silberg

Challenge: To design a military heavy lift VTOL aircraft that can operate from existing naval ships and transport a 20-ton combat-ready vehicle.

Condor, 1st Place (2004)

Team: Joshua Ellison, Abhishek Abhishek, Joseph Conroy, Jaye Falls, Shaju John, Robin Preator

Challenge: To design a helicopter for high altitude rescue operations, certified for single pilot, day/night operations with cruise speeds of at least 145 knots.

Aeneas, 1st Place (2003)

Team: Shreyas Ananthan, Jayasimha Atulasimha, Aubrey Goodman, Vinit Gupta, Wei Hu, Sudarshana Koushik, Anand Radhakrishnan, Maria Ribera, Celestine Wakha, Joseph Whitt

Challenge: To design a VTOL urban disaster response vehicle for high rise firefighter deployment, rooftop occupant extraction, disaster command and control and other emergency response missions.

TerpRanger, 1st Place (2002)

Team: Jason Pereira, Felipe Bohorquez, Mustapha Chehab, Ronald Couch, Tracy DuVall, Jacob Park, Beerinder Singh

Challenge: To upgrade and remanufacture a 4-6 place turbine helicopter for commercial applications that can operate at 140 Kt cruise speed and have a range of 400nm.

Raven, 1st Place (2001)

Team: Matthew Tarascio, Marc Gervais, Gaurav Gopalan, Tim Gowen, Kristi Kleinhesselink, Jun Ma, Kiran Singh, Yong-sheng Zhao

Challenge: To develop a VTOL platform with an innovative method of controlling the cyclic pitch of the rotor blades that does not depend upon the use of a traditional swashplate.

MARV, 1st Place (2000)

Team: Anubhav Datta, Jinsong Bao, Dan Griffiths, Oivier Gamard, Lin Liu, Greg Pugliese, Beatrice Roget, Jayanarayanan Sitaraman

Challenge: To develop an autonomous rotorcraft for exploration of Mars. The mission was to be a proof-of-concept demonstration for rotary wing flight in the Martian atmosphere.

CalVert, 1st Place (1999)

Team: Nikhil Koratkar, Nicolas Costes, William Horn, Vijay Madhavan, Hun Park, Harsha Prahlad, Paul Samuel, Mark Shaner

Challenge: To develop a high-speed (180-kt cruise), VTOL, 4-6 place, personal transport aircraft, minimizing the the number of man hours required to fabricate the components.

Chesapeake, 1st Place (1998)

Team: Andreas Bernhard, Jason Kiddy, R. Clifton Moody, Jinwei Shen, Jayant Sirohi, Mao Yang, Hyeonsoo Yeo

Challenge: To develop a modern 12-seat civil VTOL transport rotorcraft with the capability to grow to 19 seats with minimum changes.