United States of America
Dr. Ahmad Haidar, a structural dynamics engineer at Leonardo Helicopters (formerly AgustaWestland), was the recipient of the Barnes McCormick Memorial Scholarship in 2018. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. While there, Ahmad was heavily involved in VFS activities and was the president of the student chapter.
As an undergraduate student, Ahmad joined the Adverse Environment Research Test Systems (AERTS) group as a student volunteer. He became involved in rotorcraft research and decided to pursue graduate studies at Penn State’s Vertical Lift Research Center of Excellence (VLRCOE). His master's work focused on adapting passive balancing technology to helicopter driveshafts in order to reduce vibrations. He continued this work as a Ph.D. candidate as a Lord Corporation Fellow, and his studies resulted in several breakthroughs and deeper understanding of the technology mitigating previous limitations.
Several factors contributed to Ahmad’s success in the vertical flight field — to which he is very thankful. The environment at VLRCOE at Penn State and the support of his advisors, professors, and the VFS community allowed Ahmad to thrive in the field that he enjoyed. Receiving recognition by the Vertical Flight Foundation with a Ph.D. award validated his passion and work and further motivated him to remain a contributing member of the VTOL community.
Before attending Penn State and becoming involved with vertical flight, Ahmad was fascinated with flight as a child. He attributes his interest in engineering to his school teachers who introduced him to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). This had a lasting impact on his ambitions and current community service. As a student at Penn State and through the VFS chapter, Ahmad made STEM outreach to his local community one of the main goals of the chapter. He helped found the annual Penn State STEM Rotor Day — an on-campus event which attracts hundreds of local families. Under his leadership, the Penn State Chapter participated in several outreach events at local schools and on campus.
The VFF award that Ahmad received bears the name of the late Professor Barnes McCormick, who inspired and guided the careers of countless engineers in the vertical flight community. Ahmad is inspired by this award and hopes to continue to contribute to STEM outreach and education and the VFS community. Ahmad thanks Lord Corporation as a Fellow and for sponsoring the Penn State VFS chapter STEM activities – specifically, Dr. Conor Marr, Paul Black, and Victor Zaccardo. He also thanks his advisors and mentors at Penn State, Drs. Jose Palacios, Edward Smith, and George Lesieutre. Finally, he is grateful for the VFS community and the Vertical Flight Foundation for their support.
VFF Scholar Spotlight: Vertiflite Mar/Apr 2019