Longtime AE professor J.V.R. Prasad has been tapped to assume the associate director position for the Institute's Vertical Lift Research Center of Excellence (VLRCOE).
In his new role, Prasad will assist VLRCOE Director Daniel Schrage, who has been at the helm of the Center since 1986.
"It is a good fit for me, because I have been working with the Center since I was a Ph.D. student, in the 80's," said Prasad of his new appointment.
"The work the Center does is very important, and I look forward to working with all of the PI's (principal investigators) as we prepare for our three-year review next month."
Sponsored by the U.S. Army, the Center supports a multidisciplinary research partnership between different academic institutions -- currently, Georgia Tech, the University of Michigan and, Washington University. Georgia Tech has been awarded seven 5-year contracts to run the VLRCOE since earning the first one, in 1982.
All VLRCOE partnering institutions focus their research on advancing vertical lift technology in close collaboration with the rotorcraft industry. Under the current 5-year contract, the Center is responsible for more than $7 million in research activities.
Prasad sees the Center as more than the sum of its research dollars, however.
"Roto-wing aircraft occupy an important place in aviation history and in our country's national defense and security," he said.
"These are the only vehicles that can perform specific strategic missions -- like taking off and landing in a warzone -- so furthering the technology is a very important mission."
Prasad said he is proud of the role that Georgia Tech's VLRCOE has played in the development of vertical flight and automomous flight during its 32-year history as the lead institution. In particular, he pointed to the Center's role in a DARPA-sponsored project that brought together researchers from other universities to test their algorithms and other technologies on GT vehicles.
"As the Vertical Lift Center's systems integrator, Georgia Tech played a critical role in making this happen," he said. "It really shaped how we now see automous flight."
That emphasis on collaboration has not diminished, he said. Of the 11 initiatives currently funded by the Center, Prasad, himself, is collaborating with colleagues from two other universities on two projects: "Finite State Inflow Modeling for Multi-Rotor and Compound Rotorcraft Configurations and Evaluating High Speed Rotor Performance in Army and Naval Operations" and " Reduced Order Linear time Invariant Models and Algorithms for Integrated Flight and Rotor Control."
Prasad acknowledged the complexity of these titles, but said the focus is always on developing a practical application.
"For all of these years, the Vertical Lift Center has never looked at simple projects, but that's because we are always focusing on the demands and the needs of our customers, mainly the [US] Army," he said.
"Those demands have grown in their complexity, but are, always aimed at finding practical solutions."