New student club, Buckeye Vertical, explores Advanced Air Mobility and Urban Air Mobility
At the Ohio Air Mobility Symposium hosted by The Ohio State University in February 2020, students Adithya Ramaswami, aerospace engineering, and Michael Valcarcel, mechanical engineering, were introduced to the complexities and challenges within Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) and Urban Air Mobility (UAM).
Ramaswami began to explore deeper in AAM and UAM. As a student, he was excited to be at the beginning of a rapidly developing sector within aerospace.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, AAM is the innovation of new airborne technology supporting an ecosystem designed to transport people and items to locations not traditionally served by current modes of air transportation, including both rural and the more challenging and complex urban environments.
Ramaswami and Valcarcel believed that AAM was to be the future of air travel and had the ability to connect our world in a revolutionary way.
Then, they heard about the Vertical Flight Society’s announcement of their first Design Build Vertical Flight Competition. The group is the "world's only international technical society for engineers, scientists and others working to advance vertical flight technology."
“Upon hearing of the competition, I immediately jumped in and was eager to assemble a team to compete,” Ramaswami said. “We are excited to dive deeper into vertical flight technology and continue to further explore AAM."
After assembling the team, he felt that taking it one step further and launching a student organization would create the potential to introduce AAM and UAM to more students at Ohio State.
That next step led to the creation of Buckeye Vertical, a new club in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Ohio State that aims to help students explore the world of AAM and UAM.
“This is a growing sector in aerospace and will continue to change our National Airspace System in the many years to come,” said Ramaswami, now president of Buckeye Vertical. “It is important for students to be aware and understand AAM and UAM and the impact it will have on our communities. Transportation is constantly evolving, and air travel is going to see a momentous change in the next few decades.”
The club, which was officially founded in September 2020, is advised by Jim Gregory, PhD, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Matt McCrink, PhD, research scientist at Ohio State’s Aerospace Research Center.
The goal of Buckeye Vertical is to provide students the opportunity to explore and understand AAM and UAM through professional development opportunities and project-based competitions that will support and create a platform of academic enrichment and excellence, according to Valcarcel, vice president and co-founder of the club.
“Buckeye Vertical strives to create a platform readily available for students to explore unmanned aircraft technology, air vehicle design and fabrication,” Valcarcel said. “Additionally, students will develop hands-on skills and familiarization with electric-powered remote-control vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and Urban Air Mobility technology.”
Buckeye Vertical is set to compete against other universities in the Vertical Flight Society’s inaugural national Design Build Vertical Flight Competition. The contest focuses on designing, building and flying an electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle to complete two main courses.
The two courses consist of an endurance course testing the aircraft’s flight time ability along with speed, and the second course is a maneuverability course testing the accuracy of the autonomous flight and agility of the aircraft, Ramaswami and Valcarcel shared. Buckeye Vertical plans to participate in more competitions in the future to create more opportunities for students to explore this field.
More recently, Buckeye Vertical launched the “Buckeye Vertical Lecture Series,” which aims to help students critically think about AAM and UAM’s complexity and the future of this rapidly growing sector within the aerospace field. There will be guest speakers and events on a variety of topics within industry, government and academia. Attendance is open for all Ohio State students.