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Farid Saemi
Farid Saemi | Image: Jan McHarg

Farid Saemi, a graduate student in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University, was named international runner-up in the prestigious 2019 Robert L. Lichten Award competition of the Vertical Flight Society (VFS), formerly known as the American Helicopter Society.

Saemi, who received his undergraduate degree in 2017 from the department, has worked with assistant professor Dr. Moble Benedict in the Advanced Vertical Flight Laboratory (AVFL) since his sophomore year, and has interned at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Seattle, Washington.

Saemi has been researching the electric powertrains of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) in graduate school, and his first publication "Semi-Empirical Modeling of Group 1 UAS Electric Powertrains" won the VFS Southwest Region's Best Paper Award last semester. His paper placed second at the international stage ahead of papers from engineers at Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and NASA Ames Research Center. His research is funded by a Journeyman Fellowship from the Army Research Laboratory, and his research has helped the Texas A&M team competing in the Boeing GoFly prize competition. Their Phase I and Phase II winning design relies on an electric powertrain designed by Saemi.

The Robert L. Lichten Award was established in 1975 to honor the memory of Robert L. Lichten, an outstanding rotary-wing engineer and the society’s 22nd president. It recognizes new and innovative research in the area of vertical flight, and encourages VFS members who have not previously presented to begin making public the results of their work through presentations at the local level. Each of the VFS regions around the world is eligible to select a regional winner, from which an overall international winner and runner-up are selected. Students from the Advanced Vertical Flight Laboratory have placed first or second at the international level since 2015.