Oct 27

A great night at MIT Beaver Works

On October 25th, Dr. Robert Shin of MIT’s Beaver Works hosted the East New England chapter of the American Helicopter Society at their innovative laboratory on campus in Cambridge.

Nearly 40 vertical flight enthusiasts gathered for a night of networking, presentations, food, and fun.


Always a crowd favorite, and somewhat of an AHS East New England chapter tradition, Dave Spillman kicked off the event with his famous helicopter trivia contest.Two teams tied for first and each enjoyed a special discount applicable towards the next AHS East New England chapter event.  Thank you again to Dave for a fun trivia contest.

Dr. Robert Shin, the Director of MIT Beaver Works, then gave an informative presentation covering the history of MIT Beaver Works.  The lab functions as a design space for MIT Engineering students to design and build their capstone projects.

It is an interesting collaboration between MIT and Lincoln Laboratory, and the students work on many real-world problems through 2-semester projects. MIT Beaver Works Lab Manager, Lisa Kelley, took us on a tour of the award-winning facility.  The students have access to any tools they could want to design and build their project prototypes; from drills, mills, and lathes to laser cutters and 3D printers, they have it all!


Next, we got to hear from Prof. Sertac Karaman about his research into autonomous UAVs.

Prof. Karaman gave a fascinating presentation about using high-speed imaging cameras and MIT-built computer processors to create virtual environments to fly autonomous quadcopters through.

Someday, he hopes to compete an autonomous quad against an FPV human-piloted quad and win a head-to-head race.


Peter Godart, an MIT Engineering graduate student, then spoke about his research into using Aluminum as a fuel source.

His live-demonstration of reacting his specially treated Aluminum with water was a crowd favorite.  The concept of powering the world with waste aluminum was intriguing and exciting.


Ezra Tal, another MIT Engineering graduate student, rounded out the night by sharing his research with the AHS ENE audience.  It was every bit as technical and impressive as you’d expect an MIT research presentation to be!

Dr. Shin did the honors of drawing the 50/50 raffle winner – Ed Birtwell – who kindly donated the proceeds back to the chapter.  The 50/50 raffle is used to help offset the costs of events like this when we offer discounted tickets for students.  Thanks, Ed!


Chapter President, Harry Nahatis, wrapped up the event and announced that our next event will be late November or early December.  Special thank you to Dave Spillman for a great trivia contest, and to AHS East New England University Coordinator Brent Vlasman for organizing this great event at MIT!


Stay tuned for more information about our next event!