ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- More than 40 aviation engineers, researchers and enthusiasts from across the mid-Atlantic region gathered Aug. 18, 2016, for the inaugural meeting of the American Helicopter Society's Aberdeen Chapter.

Aviation engineers from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory's Vehicle Technology Directorate led efforts to establish the local group, which is the world's only "international technical society for engineers, scientists and others working on vertical flight technology," according to its website.

The new chapter hosted a lecture from Bell Helicopter Textron chief technologist Tom Wood.

"I hope to show some of the history of how we got where we got and show the importance of analysis to help us provide correct performance," Wood said.

After the meeting, many new chapter members went on a tour of the Vehicle Research Laboratory where they learned about initiatives in 3-D printed unmanned aircraft systems and the latest research to protect aircraft engines from sand.

"I'm very excited," Wood said. "I just came back from the labs and I'm impressed with the research work that you're doing. It's always exciting to me to see the basic research still going on in America."

AHS International has 27 active chapters. There are 18 in the United States with additional chapters in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea and Singapore.

Michael Avera, an Army engineer and organizer of the kickoff event, said Army engineers wanted to establish a local AHS chapter because of the high concentration of researchers in the Aberdeen area.

"We plan to promote the research that is going on in the Aberdeen area and to highlight the organizations that are in the area," Avera said. "We plan to provide networking and collaboration opportunities so that we can succeed even further in our research endeavors."

"I'm very optimistic about an AHS chapter," Wood said. "It's very energizing to get around your peers and find out what other people are doing and it makes you think about things that you haven't thought about before."

Avera said the chapter has many upcoming events planned and hope to grow the organization in the future.

"Moving forward, we are going to set up more chapter events, which would include tours of different research facilities and organizations, not necessarily on APG, but in the Aberdeen area," Avera said.

"This was a great first meeting, with an excellent technical presentation by an award winning speaker," said AHS International Executive Director Mike Hirschberg. "It was a great way to show what the chapter is capable of. AHS is an excellent vehicle for learning, networking and professional development."

Hirschberg said the best learning takes place at the boundary between what someone knows and what they don't know.

"AHS is a great way for folks to see beyond your niche and make connections with other engineers and scientists who may be doing similar research but in different fields or for different applications," he said.


The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.