Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarships

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Katarina Alexis Morowsky

Oregon State University

Katarina Morowsky is a Ph.D. Candidate in Industrial Engineering with a focus on Human Factors at Oregon State University. Katarina has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Design, Innovation, and Society from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a M.S. in Human Factors from Tufts University. In her spare time, Katarina enjoys downhill skiing, rock and ice climbing, as well as sewing.

How did you get interested in vertical flight?

"I first became interested in aviation during an internship at Hamilton Sundstrand where I worked in various departments supporting jet engine production; it was there my interest in helicopter cockpit design and evaluation originated. After working for a year as a manufacturing engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, I began to pursue a career path in aviation human factors.

My research at Tufts University focused on understanding the effects of traffic and navigation displays on airport ground vehicle operators’ situational awareness. While at Tufts I also worked at the D.O.T. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center collaborating with the FAA and NASA investigating various aspects of charts and charting symbols used by pilots taxiing in low visibility conditions."

What impact has receiving the VFF scholarship had for you?

"Every day I am thankful that I get to work on research that I am passionate about, but funding for helicopter research continues to be limited when compared to that for fixed wing aircraft. To help fund my Ph.D. program, I have taken teaching and research assistant positions that are not directly related to my particular research interests and take time away from my dissertation research. The Vertical Flight Foundation scholarship has afforded me the opportunity to work fewer hours as an assistant so I can focus a greater amount of my time on understanding how human error manifests within different helicopter mission sets."

What are some of your current projects or research interests?

"My current doctoral research is pioneering work to increase helicopter safety. It deals with one of the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) top ten most wanted research areas (addressing the unique characteristics of helicopter operations), as well as the International Helicopter Safety Team’s goal to reduce helicopter accidents by 80% by 2016.

My research seeks to identify underlying causes of human error that lead to helicopter accidents. It will utilize task analyses of single and dual pilot helicopter operations across various mission types to map out tasks, information, mechanisms and potential errors within different helicopter missions."

Tell us about your future plans.

"I hope to graduate with a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and continue my research in helicopter human factors. I hope to collaborate with industry and government agencies to validate the proposed helicopter accident mitigation strategies that will be presented within my dissertation. I also hope to teach within the academic environment where I can help inspire and shape the minds of tomorrow’s innovators."

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