Ohio State University students learn about AFWERX and Advanced Air Mobility, fly simulators

  • Published
  • By Matthew Clouse
  • Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (AFRL) – Aerospace engineering students from Ohio State University were invited to Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport, Ohio, to learn about AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Department of the Air Force, and Advanced Air Mobility Nov. 7, 2023.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Advanced Air Mobility is a rapidly-emerging, new sector of the aerospace industry which aims to safely and efficiently integrate highly automated aircraft such as electric aircraft into the national airspace system.

“I want you all to be excited about the third revolution in aerospace,” said Hank Griffiths, AFWERX chief of test and airworthiness, to the students. “The first was powered flight with the Wright brothers. Then we had the jet age. Now we are just entering the electric age. Get excited about that, because you’re future engineers and these electric aircraft companies need engineers.”  The visit began with Griffiths telling the students about AFWERX and its partnership with electric aircraft companies, such as BETA Technologies and Joby Aviation, to bring zero-emission aviation to the military along with other benefits, including a quiet noise profile and the cost savings to operate and maintain its fleet without dependency on traditional fossil fuels.

“Our Air Force Chief of Staff published a letter called ‘Accelerate Change or Lose’ in order to keep up with our adversaries,” Griffiths explained. “Innovation is happening in the private sector and we need to partner with them to accelerate technology into the Air Force.”

Griffiths invited the students to Springfield-Beckley Airport because it has become a hub for unmanned aerial systems and electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft research, development and testing. The airport also has simulators from BETA and Joby that students got to fly.  “The simulator was amazing and easy to fly, like driving a car,” said Maya Sivakumaran, Ohio State University aerospace engineering sophomore. “It's a very exciting time to be an aerospace major and I’m very optimistic about the future of aviation and how that can positively impact humanity.”

The visit also gave students the opportunity to ask questions to aerospace experts from AFWERX, BETA and Joby.

“We learn the basics in the classroom but these opportunities allow you to apply those concepts,” said Henry Kitchen, Ohio State University aerospace engineering sophomore. “This visit is something I’ve been really excited about and was a really cool experience.”  After students were done flying in the simulators, Griffiths had one last message.

“Let other students know about this and get them excited so they will want to come visit.”

About AFRL 
The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 12,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit afresearchlab.com.
As the innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory, AFWERX brings cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. AFWERX employs approximately 325 military, civilian and contractor personnel at six hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4 billion budget. Since 2019, AFWERX has executed 4,697 contracts worth more than $2.6 billion to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit: afwerx.com.