The Aerospace Engineering Department has enjoyed the generous support of the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Foundation during the last decade. We have a relatively new building (with approximately 100,000 square feet of space) that was completed in 1993, with funding of $5 million from the Foundation combined with an additional $9 million from the state of Michigan and other donors. At the same time the Foundation endowed four FXB Fellowships that support doctoral students for a five-year period at the level of $35,000/per year/per student. Subsequently, in 1997, the Foundation has endowed the FXB Chair, with an endowment of $ 1.2 million, and also provided an additional $300,000 for the establishment of a related center. The purpose of the Chair was to allow the Department to recruit an outstanding individual in the rotary-wing area and thus facilitate the development of a strong rotary-wing program in the Aerospace Engineering Department (commemorating François-Xavier Bagnoud, who died in a helicopter accident). Professor P. Friedmann was recruited for the Chair position and he joined the Aerospace Engineering Department in January 1999. The FXB Center for Rotary and Fixed Wing Air Vehicle Design (FXB-CRFWAD) was established in June 1999, with Professor Friedmann as its Director. In March 2001 the FXB Foundation increased its support to the center by an additional annual commitment of funds that together with the income from the endowment can be used to attract research funding from government agencies and the aerospace industry.
The Center focuses on innovative research on topics that represent barrier issues in rotary and fixed wing air vehicle design, combined with providing a first rate education in these fields. The Center educates engineers with a systems vision capable of interfacing with the multidisciplinary requirements of advanced aerospace vehicles. This is closely integrated with its research mission that is to lead in the development of advanced concepts for future aircraft systems. It focuses on multidisciplinary issues that play key roles in the design of manned and unmanned air vehicles. Currently, the areas being emphasized are interactions between computational aeroelasticity and aerodynamics, controls, flight mechanics, active materials, and composite structures. For the rotorcraft activities, the focus is on the development of vehicles with low vibrations and noise levels, good damage tolerance characteristics, low weight and low cost. For fixed wing vehicles the current emphasis is hypersonic vehicles and high performance UAV’s. These are reflected on several sponsored research programs that involves several funding agencies.
Since 2006 the FXB-CRFWAD has been a partner in the Vertical Lift Research Center of Excellence (VLRCOE), a center funded by NRTC and led by Georgia Tech in a partnership with the University of Michigan, Washington University in St. Louis, Purdue University, and other institutions. Dr. Friedmann is on of the Associate Directors of VLRCOE.