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.

Team Captain: Dr. Moble Benedict

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 Bagnoud Award and $25K Grand Prize at the Lockheed Martin Innovate the Future Global Challenge


Electrical, business lead: Farid Saemi

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.


Aerodynamics, Rotor design Lead: Dr. Atanu Halder

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.


Flight controls, CAD lead: David Coleman

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.


Flight dynamics, Test Safety lead: Lt. Bochan Lee

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.


Mechanical systems lead: Carl Runco

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.


Avionics lead: Hunter Denton

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.


Blade structural lead: Vishaal Subramanian

Vishaal Subramanian is a Masters student of Aerospace engineering at TAMU. He has participated in SAE Aero Design competitions from 2014-2016 and has interned at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.


Composite blade modeling: Aswathi Sudhir

Aswathi Sudhir is an aerospace engineering PhD candidate at TAMU researching computational damage mechanics in composite structures and materials. She has interned at Tesla, Inc and enjoys playing badmington.


Acoustics lead: Dr. Eric Greenwood

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!


CFD lead: Dr. Vinod Lakshminarayan

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.


Embedded systems lead: Dr. Vikram Hrishikeshavan

Dr. Hrishikeshavan is an Assistant Research Scientist at the University of Maryland with 14 years of experience in VTOL aircraft concepts. He was awarded the AIAA Young Engineer-Scientist Award in 2015 and $20K first place in the Sergey Brin Foundation competition for innovation in hybrid air vehicle technology in 2018. He has developed a 3-gram “Embedded Lightweight Kinematic Autopilot” (ELKA) that achieves comparable hover stabilization rates as the autopilots on larger quad rotor systems such as DJI Phantom and AR-Drone.