The Team


Our team is composed of 5 PhD engineers and 7 engineering graduate students. Among our members are 2 NASA subject matter experts and an active-duty military helicopter pilot. Combined, we have 80 years of hands-on VTOL engineering experience.

Dr. Moble Benedict

Team Captain

Dr. Benedict is an Assistant Professor of aerospace engineering and founder of Advanced Vertical Flight Laboratory (AVFL) with 15 years of experience in VTOL aircraft concepts. He was awarded the 2012 AIAA Young Engineer-Scientist Award, 2016 AHS Bagoud Award and $25K Grand Prize at the Lockheed Martin Innovate the Future Global Challenge

Farid Saemi

Electrical & Business Lead

Farid Saemi is an aerospace engineering PhD student at AVFL researching physics-based electrical powertrain models for aerial systems. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in 2017 from Texas A&M and has interned at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, NASA Johnson, and NASA Langley. He was president of the student chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics during his junior year.

Dr. Atanu Halder

Aerodynamics & Rotor Design Lead

Atanu Halder recently defended his PhD in aerospace engineering and is pursuing a post-doc at AVFL. He has developed a design framework for next-generation VTOL UAVs based on a novel cycloidal-rotor (“cyclorotor”) concept. He won best paper award at 2017 AHS Forum and the Vertical Flight Foundation scholarship in 2018.

David Coleman

Flight Controls & CAD Lead

David Coleman is an aerospace engineering PhD candidate at AVFL researching a robotic hummingbird concept, which he has designed, built and flight tested. He has won numerous awards for his work and was one of the semi-finalists for the 2018 MIT Lemelson Award.

Lt. Bochan Lee

Flight dynamics & Test Safety Lead

Bochan Lee is a PhD student at AVFL researching autonomous ship landing for helicopters. He has 7 years of experience as a UH-60 pilot for the South Korean Navy (Lieutenant). He won the 2018 Vertical Flight Foundation scholarship.

Carl Runco

Mechanical Systems Lead

Carl Runco is a PhD candidate at AVFL researching micro-scale cyclocopters. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Texas A&M (Class of 2012) and has interned at the Robotics Divison of NASA Johnson. In past mechanical projects, he has helped build rocket engine test stands and has refurbished a motorcycle. He enjoys gardening and jiu-jitsu.

Hunter Denton

Avionics Lead

Hunter Denton is a Masters student in AVFL and a class of 2017 graduate of aerospace engineering. He has designed and built numerous small scale, coaxial helicopter systems including Harmony’s 1/8th scale prototype, and he has interned at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Aberdeen Proving Grounds. He enjoys flying RC aircraft and building things with his 3D printer.

Dr. Eric Greenwood

Acoustics Lead

Dr. Greenwood received a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland and is a researcher at NASA Langley developing rotor noise modeling methods and experimental techniques. He was awarded the NASA Early Career Achievement Medal in 2017 and the 2018 AHS Bagnoud award for this work. In his free time, he enjoys maintaining his bee farm!

Dr. Vinod Lakshminarayan

CFD lead

Dr. Lakshminarayan is a Research Scientist at Science and Technology Corporation, NASA Ames Research Center. He is one of the primary developers of the high performance computational software, Helios, which is used for design and analysis of complex rotary wing systems at DoD and US helicopter companies.

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