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Hampton Roads Chapter Education Outreach

Recently the Vertical Flight Society – Hampton Roads Chapter Education Director, Dr. James Stephenson, engaged with local primary school children to encourage and develop of love of science and mathematics. Dr. Stephenson met with 140 first grade students to teach a hands-on lesson about sound and vibration, part of the Virginia Standards of Learning.


Through the use of tuning forks, springs, a Chladni plate, and other hands-on tools he was able to show how vibrations propagate through different media, as well as how sound is produced through vibrations and movement. The students were engaged with a child-like wonder at the science, or ‘magic’ to hear them describe it, of the lesson. This is part of an active engagement in the local school districts by VFS-HRC, which includes outreach, college scholarships, and science fair awards. Future in-class engagements are planned. Local schools are encouraged to reach out and contact Dr. Stephenson (mailto:education@vfshrc.onmicrosoft.com) to discuss the possibility of a visit to your school!


2020 Robert L. Lichten Award
VFS Southeast Region Competition Update

The Robert L. Lichten Award is presented annually for the best technical presentation by a VFS member who has not previously  presented at the Forum or regional technical meetings.  The competition is carried out first at the regional level with the regional winners traveling to the Annual Forum for final presentations. The chapters in the Southeast Region include: Aberdeen Proving Ground; Cherry Point; Federal City; Hampton Roads; and Patuxent River. Seven abstracts were received all from students at the University of Maryland.  The regional competition was conducted  January 8, 2020,  at the University of Maryland. Mr. Mrinalgouda Patil was selected as the region winner. His presentation was entitled “A Scalable Time-Parallel Solution of Periodic Rotor Dynamics in X3D.”  Due to the unusual circumstances due to COVID-19, the papers from regional winners have been evaluated based solely on the paper.  Mr. Patil’s  paper is scheduled to be presented at Forum 76 during the Dynamics I session on the morning of October 6th and will be recognized as the 2020 Lichten runner-up paper during the Technical Session. He also will receive complimentary Forum 76 registration. Congratulations Mr. Patil.

2019 Christopher Gavora Scholarship


The Hampton Roads Chapter of the Vertical Flight Society annually awards the Christopher Gavora Scholarship to a deserving student from the chapter’s membership area that includes all of Virginia except the greater Washington D.C. area.  Chris, the son of Colonel William Gavora, a former Commander of the Aviation Applied Technology Directorate at Fort Eustis, Virginia, was tragically killed in a high school baseball practice accident after his family moved to Texas.  The chapter is delighted to announce the $1,000 2019 Christopher Gavora Scholarship has been awarded to William Butler, a graduate of Kellum High School in Virginia Beach.

Will was a straight A student at Kellum with a long list of activities, interests and awards that include: a three sport athlete and captain of his football team; class president, Military Child of the Year Finalist, President’s Volunteer Service Award winner, volunteer hours with literally dozens of community groups and participation in a number of NASA programs for high school students with a focus on space travel to Mars.  Furthermore, Will worked as a Virginia Beach lifeguard and is CPR/AED certified.  In his spare time Will enjoys singing and playing the guitar and banjo. 

Will plans to attend the University of Virginia, majoring in Aerospace Engineering and Business.

2019 Tidewater Regional Science and Engineering Fair

As it has for many years in the past, this year the VFS Hampton Roads Chapter presented multiple special awards at the Tidewater Science & Engineering Fair. The Junior Division (Middle School) award winners received $200 for first place, and $150 for second place. The Senior Division (High School) award winners received $250 for first place, and $200 for second place. These awards are given to the students with the best projects supporting “the multidisciplinary fields of vertical flight, traditional rotorcraft platforms disciplines, and related support industries.”  The winners were judged to be the best versed with their work and performed the most unique experiments. Their teachers have also received a $100 award for supporting the STEM community, and leading their students to these great achievements.

The Junior Division first place award winner was Michelle Hu for her work on object detection and classification in visually similar and dissimilar backgrounds. Michelle used an open source object classification program to detect colored spheres on colored paper. The second place award winner was Nolan McBride, who investigated the sound absorption properties of various insulation materials to reduce noise transmission.

The Senior Division first place award winner was Peneeta Wojcik for her work studying the effects of cobalt nitrate thickness on the efficiency of an electrochemical cell. Her work showed a thicker cobalt nitrate layer deposited on top of a nickel substrate, allowed for an increased efficiency in separating hydrogen atoms from water. This work helps to enable future hydrogen fuel cell technologies. Second place award winner in the senior division was Bharath Kashyap who investigated wind turbine blade shapes on achievable power output. He kept a constant angle of attack, surface area, and airfoil, changing only the planform shape to determine the most efficient turbine for his wind conditions.

The awards were presented by the Chapter’s Education Director Dr. James Stephenson.