The University of Maryland (UMD) Department of Aerospace Engineering has named Professor James D. Baeder the next Igor Sikorsky Distinguished Professor. Supported through an endowment from Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, the Igor Sikorsky Distinguished Professorship in Rotorcraft serves to support enhanced research specialization in areas related to rotorcraft. Together Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin are world leaders in flight systems, with helicopter design, manufacture and service operations based in Connecticut.

Baeder, who also serves as the associate director of the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center, is an expert in the areas of developing and applying Computational Fluid Dynamic methods to better understand and predict rotary aerodynamic, acoustics, and dynamics.

One of his early key research thrusts was the development of multi-fidelity coupled CFD/free-wake/ structural dynamics/acoustic methods. His pioneering efforts in predicting high-speed vibration of helicopters, together with Distinguished University Professor Inderjit Chopra, lead to a better understanding of the physical mechanisms responsible for the large increase in vibrations at such conditions.

“Dr. Baeder is not only "rock-solid" in the computational fluid dynamics  (CFD) of rotorcraft, but also, he is an enormously creative researcher, and is using his skills to impact other research disciplines such as wind turbines aeromechanics, and VTOL noise and designs,” said Chopra.

Baeder also pioneered the development of improved CFD algorithms, with a focus on GPGPU technology, Meta-Machine Learning, and exploiting Hamiltonian paths and strands in unstructured meshes to capture: the details of laminar/turbulent transition; dynamic stall; as well as rotor tip vortex formation, convection and subsequent interaction with other surfaces including fuselages, towers or the ground.

“I’m very pleased that Dr. Baeder has accepted the position as our next Igor Sikorsky Distinguished Professor,” said Alison Flatau, professor and department chair.  “He will be bringing to this position his vast knowledge and experience in the field of rotorcraft as well as a new vision and direction for creative projects to grow the reputation of our department as the premier thought-leaders in this important field."

More recent research areas Baeder is focusing on include the area of vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT), offshore wind turbines and interactional aerodynamics, and the resulting noise from Urban Air Mobility Vehicles along with Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), along with newly initiated research in hypersonics and quantum computing. He also currently has an education grant from the Maryland Energy Agency to develop a graduate curriculum in offshore wind energy.

Baeder’s research has been funded by NASA Ames and Langley, the Army Aeroflightdynamics Directorate, the Army Research Office, the Army Research Laboratory, the National Rotorcraft Technology Center, DARPA, and ARPA-E, along with support from various vertical lift companies.

He has authored more than 75 archival journal articles; served on various committees; and chaired sessions for both the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the American Helicopter Society. He received the 1993 Schroers Award for Outstanding Rotorcraft Research from the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the AHS and the 2010 AIAA National Capital Section Engineer of the Year Award. Dr. Baeder is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a Technical Fellow of the American Helicopter Society.

He holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rice U (’83) and M.S. and Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford U (’84, ’89), and joined the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center in 1993 after nine years at the Army Aeroflightdynamics Directorate, co-located at NASA Ames Research Center.

Baeder is the second department faculty member to hold this named professorship, succeeding Professor Olivier Bauchau, who was named to the inaugural position in 2015.


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February 6, 2024

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