Ohio State University aerospace engineering students 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.
The visit began with Hank Griffiths, AFWERX chief of test and airworthiness, 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.
“I want you all to be excited about the third revolution in aerospace,” Griffiths said. “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.”
“Our Air Force Chief of Staff published a letter called ‘Accelerate Change or Lose’ in order to keep up with our adversaries,” he added. “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 added; “Let other students know about this and get them excited so they will want to come visit.”