Engineering students earn scholarships from international society

Gabrielle Stewart
April 30, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Vertical Flight Society (VFS) awarded Vertical Flight Foundation (VFF) scholarships to three Penn State engineering students, who will be recognized at the VFS Grand Awards Ceremony on May 5.

Damaris Rene Zachos, an acoustics graduate student, received the Bell Scholarship. The $5,000 award, funded by a VFF endowment from Bell Textron Inc., recognizes the top-scoring scholarship applicant. With a research interest in helicopter vibrations and acoustics, Zachos primarily uses simulation software to model various helicopters and predict the physical noise generated by their operation. She aims to use the data to develop procedures that help pilots to fly aircraft more quietly. After completing her master’s degree and her doctorate, Zachos plans to return to a position at Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, Connecticut. 

“The receipt of the Vertical Flight Foundation scholarship confirmed that I have the right experience and passion for vertical flight,” Zachos said. “I’m doing what I’m supposed to be.” 

Raja Akif Raja Zahirudin was awarded the Professor Barnes McCormick Scholarship. The award memorializes McCormick, a Penn State engineering alumnus and Boeing Professor Emeritus who died in 2017. Raja Zahirudin, an aerospace engineering doctoral candidate and president of the Penn State VFS student chapter, received $3,625. Fascinated by helicopters as a child, Raja Zahirudin now investigates rotor noise for electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles and drones to find ways to reduce it.

“Receiving this recognition from the vertical flight community is very humbling,” Raja Zahirudin said. “It is a testament to the determination to follow one’s dream, no matter the challenges.”  

Leilani Friday received the $3,500 Frank N. Piasecki Scholarship, named in honor of the invention of the tandem rotor helicopter. Friday, a second-year aerospace engineering undergraduate student, aims to investigate ways to make small, vertically flying systems, such as quadcopters, more cost-effective for aerial surveillance, photography and videography. 

“I am very excited to receive this prestigious award,” Friday said. “It encourages me to move forward with my ideas on how to implement compact, vertical-flight vehicles.”


(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 03, 2021