Doing More with Less: Human Flight on the Power of a Cordless Drill

On June 13th, 2013, AeroVelo’s Atlas Human-Powered Helicopter captured the 33-year-outstanding AHS Sikorsky Prize. Created in 1980 and thought by many to be impossible, the prize required an HPH to fly for 60 seconds and achieve 3m in height, while remaining controlled within a 10m by 10m box.

Todd Reichert and Cameron Robertson will chronicle the journey leading to this historic achievement, and the process behind the creation of Atlas. This will include the Snowbird Human-Powered Ornithopter, which in 2010 became the first successful human-powered flapping wing aircraft. The evolving aircraft design strategies involved in developing these unique vehicles have included Multi-Disciplinary Optimization, high-performance composite structures, as well as many creative and innovative solutions to engineering challenges.

Todd and Cameron will conclude with a discussion of future human-powered projects, including their current focus on high-speed human-powered land vehicles. In the quest for the World human-powered land speed record, these vehicles will require aerodynamic shape optimization for extended runs of laminar flow, potentially setting the stage for the next phase of individual transportation technology.

Sponsored by the Aerospace Engineering Department (http:// as part of the 585 Lecture Series.

Todd Reichert graduated from University of Toronto Engineering Science (Aerospace Option) in 2005, and his Ph.D. in 2011 from the U of T Institute for Aerospace Studies. Cameron Robertson graduated Engineering Science (Aerospace Option) in 2008, and his Master’s in 2009 also at UTIAS. During their studies, Todd and Cameron led the team that designed and built the Snowbird Human-Powered Ornithopter. On August 2nd 2010, the Snowbird became the World’s first human-powered flapping-wing aircraft to sustain flight, the realization of an ancient aeronautical dream. For this achievement Todd and Cameron were named co-recipients of the CASI Trans-Canada McKee Trophy, among the highest honors in Canadian Aerospace.

In 2012 Todd and Cameron established AeroVelo Inc, a company dedicated to increasing the public’s awareness of sustainable solutions to society’s most pressing technological challenges. AeroVelo has focused on using human-powered vehicles as a teaching platform to demonstrate innovative and creating engineering design and challenge the general perception of the impossible. They first undertook Atlas Human-Powered Helicopter Project with the aim of capturing the 33-year old AHS Sikorsky Prize, for the first flight of a human-powered helicopter to exceed 60 seconds duration and reach 3m in height. On June 13th, 2013, Atlas completed a flight satisfying all prize requirements, a historic milestone. AeroVelo’s next focus is on high-speed aerodynamic bicycles capable of 130Km/h.


Paul Harrison, PhD’70

It may be of interest that Areoviroment, the maker of the small drones for the US Government, was started by Paul McCready, (bicycled powered airplane, etc.), Paul probably got the idea from a model airplane put together by graduate Arthur Tingle and local bicycle shop owner Fred Beaver. Read More »

Aerospace Engineering Changed My Life

Aerospace Engineering Changed My Life

David Schmitt, BS’81. Senior Project Engineer

My story is about the benefit of career counseling at U-M and developing good analytic and writing skills. Read More »

Use Everything You Know to Pursue Your Objectives

David R. Kassoy, PhD’65., Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Subsequent to the first 29 years of my academic career, mostly at the University of Colorado, Boulder, I decided to pursue an administrative opportunity in the Graduate School, with responsibility for many aspects of the campus research enterprise. Read More »

Supersonic Nozzles for Better Fuel Atomization

Paul Trame, BSE’65, MSE’67., Senior Development Engineer

After being laid off from Williams International (builder of the Cruise Missile, and small Jet Engines) when we lost several follow-on programs with Russia’s collapse in 1991, I found a job at Ford Motor Company’s Advanced V-Engine group. Read More »

Phil Roe | Colorful Fluid Dynamics: Behind the Scenes

Phil Roe, professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan, discusses Colorful Fluid Dynamics (CFD), which has become a pervasive mode of investigation into fluid dynamics, and aerodynamics in particular, and how it is important to treat it with the proper mixture of respect and skepticism. This talk will be a backstage tour of CFD. He will cover the history of CFD from the earliest beginnings to the present day. He will show what makes CFD difficult, and describe some of the intellectual breakthroughs that have enabled progress. He will show examples where reliance on CFD can be dangerous, but also describe how CFD can be a source of physical insight. Finally, I will discuss some of the currently active research into CFD methodology, and the effect that it is hoped to have.

Sponsored by the Aerospace Engineering Department ( as a part of the AE585 Seminar lecture series.

Phil Roe, Professor- Aerospace Engineering
Speaker Overview: Education: B.A. 1961, University of Cambridge, Department of Engineering. Dip. Aero 1962, University of Cambridge, Department of Engineering. Specializations and Research Interests: Computational Fluid Dynamics; Magnetohydrodynamics; and, Electromagnetics.

Speaker Detailed Overview: Education: B.A. 1961, University of Cambridge, Department of Engineering. Dip. Aero 1962, University of Cambridge, Department of Engineering. Specializations and Research Interests: Computational Fluid Dynamics; Magnetohydrodynamics; and, Electromagnetics. Honors and Awards: • Honoree, Jameson-Roe-van Leer Symposium, San Diego 2013. • University of Michigan College of Engineering Research Excellence Award, 2000-2001. • 60th Birthday Symposium “Innovative Numerical Methods for Partial Differential Equations”, Arcachan, France, June, 1998, Proceedings published by World Scientific • NASA Group Achievement Award, 1993. • 1981 paper ‘Approximate Riemann solvers, parameter vectors and difference schemes’ , selected for reprinting in 25th Anniversary issue of Journal of Computational Physics. Citations currently exceed 6000. • Elected AIAA Fellow, 1996, • Departmental Research Award, Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan, 1994

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