Dr. James Wang
Dr. James Wang has an insatiable talent and passion for aeronautics. He started flying and building his own model aircraft designs since 12 years old. James went on to earn a B.S. degree in aeronautical engineering and a second B.S. degree in electrical engineering, both from M.I.T., under the guidance of Professors Wesley Harris, Norman Ham, and Rene Miller. For his M.I.T. thesis with Professor Miller, he designed and built an electronic quad-feedback loop SAS (Stability Augmentation System) using analog devices and then successfully flight tested on his radio controlled helicopter. He then went on to receive an M.S. and a Ph.D. from the Rotorcraft Center of University of Maryland, where he specialized in bearingless main rotor research under the guidance of Professor Inderjit Chopra. There, he developed an analysis to examine the aeromechanical effects of blade-to-blade dissimilarities, and contributed to the development of the UMARC comprehensive analysis code. His Ph.D. research demonstrated that while vibratory loads would increase with dissimilar blades, the regressing lag mode instability will actually decrease because of a sharing of energy amongst the lag modes.
Dr. Wang has been the lead author on over 30 technical papers. He has been awarded the American Helicopter Society (AHS) Forum Best Technical Presentation three times (‘93, ‘95 and ‘96). He has served on the AHS Dynamics Committee and as chair of the Dynamic Sessions at the AHS Forum, and as a member of the AHS Technical Council. He is also a member of the SAE Technical Council, and representing AgustaWestland as the governing board member of the European Union’s 1.8 billion Euro Clean Sky program.
Dr. Wang was at Sikorsky Aircraft for eighteen years where he was known as one of the most energetic and prolific technical experts in the areas of aeromechanics, ground test, flight test, and preliminary design. His technical contributions to the rotorcraft community included improving the state-of-the-art in comprehensive rotorcraft codes, validating vibratory loads reduction methodologies, devising aeroelastic instability alleviation, and leading many wind tunnel and full scale rotor tests. He has led R&D on Variable Diameter Tiltrotor (VDTR), Comanche, UH-60 Black Hawk, S-92, and US Presidential VH-3 helicopter programs. His technical contributions were critical to the success of these landmark helicopters.
For his relentless dedication on the development and testing of the S-76 bearingless main rotor, which was the proof-of-concept demonstrator of the Comanche BMR, he received the NASA Technical Achievement Award and the George Mead Gold Award in 1993, which is the highest accolade from the United Technologies Corporation. The George Gold Mead Award is bestowed on a person or a team with the highest technological achievement within the 170,000 employees of the United Technologies Corporation.
Dr. Wang’s passion has always been in rotorcraft technology and pushing new innovations, but his distinguished career in rotorcraft spans far beyond pure engineering. Dr. Wang has the rare talent to combine technical knowledge with business thinking, and bring people to collaborate to achieve a common goal. At Sikorsky he was appointed a leadership position to personally lead strategic international business campaigns. His commitment and astute leadership led to the successful fruition of many billions of dollars of international contracts in his career.
Since 2007, Dr. Wang has held the strategic position of Vice President of Research & Technology at AgustaWestland. At AgustaWestland, Dr. Wang has created an Advanced Concept Group,
modeled after the famous Lockheed Skunkworks. He was responsible for all research and technology activities for AgustaWestland, and provides leadership and management of company-wide research programs; including active rotor, electric tail rotor, advanced materials, friendlier cockpit, a LIDAR proximity warning to improve safety, futuristic configurations, greener rotorcraft, and many more. Dr. Wang firmly believes in collaborations among rotorcraft industry, academia, and government agencies. His philosophy is that if we can collaboratively bring forth new innovations, then the rotorcraft industry and society as a whole will benefit. For example, if a brownout solution can be found, or a quieter rotor blade developed, or a cleaner and lower CO2 propulsion system can be invented, then everyone benefits.
In 2013, WIRED Magazine named Dr. Wang “the Steve Job of helicopters” for his ability to think “out of the box” and pushing the technology boundaries by inventing and designing the AgustaWestland “Project Zero,” the world’s first all-electric VTOL technology demonstrator. Dr. Wang pulled together a team of 16 companies from three continents and created the Advanced Concepts Group inside AgustaWestland, and personally led 20 young and enthusiastic engineers to design, build and test the Project Zero demonstrator, all within six months.
The key technology breakthroughs with Project Zero included: • All-electric propulsion. • Direct motor drive with dual motors mounted on the same shaft, and no transmission. • Individual Blade Control for swashplateless flight control and vibration suppression. • EMA (Electro-Mechanical Actuators) for hydraulics-free Fly-by-Wire system. • Zero-emission rechargeable Lithium battery energy source, with flexibility to hybridize with other energy sources in future (e.g. Diesel engine, fuel cell). • Stability Augmentation System (SAS) and autopilot control laws for a twin rotor-in-wing aircraft configuration, including collective and cyclic blade pitch and rotor tilting control.
Project Zero was unveiled to the world at the 2013 Paris Airshow. Its beauty and unique design caught the attention of the world by surprise. It earned a place in the 2014 Guinness Book of World Records, won the 2012 AgustaWestland Innovation Award, won the Finmeccanica 2012 Innovation Award of the year, and in 2013 received the highest accolade from the Italian Ministry of Science and Technology. The editors of Aviation Weeks & Space Technology have chosen the Project Zero as one of final nominees for the highly coveted 2013 Aviation Weeks Laureate Award. In 2014, the Project Zero was awarded the prestigious Grover E. Bell Award by the American Helicopter Society and the AHMEC 2014 Achievement Trophy by the American Helicopter Museum and Education Center. The Royal Aeronautics Society selected the AgustaWestland Project Zero as the winner of 2014 RAeS Team Gold Award. Only seven Team Gold Award has ever been given out in the history of RAes.
With the Project Zero, Dr. Wang has taught a generation of young rotorcraft engineers to believe in “anything that can be dreamed, can be built.”
Despite his busy schedule, Dr. Wang always finds time to lecture to high school and college students about the importance of studying science and technology, and acts as a mentor on career planning. He encourages companies to sponsor students in science and technology. AgustaWestland is sponsoring the 2014 AHS Student Design Contest with an RFP similar to the DARPA X-VTOL challenge.
In his position as the Vice President of Research and Technology, Dr. Wang was pursuing his first love – advancing the future of vertical flight technology. Wherever he works, his vision and leadership has been critical to moving the company and industry to develop innovations that can be integrated into the next-generation of vertical flight aircraft. Dr. Wang has supported and actively participated as a committee member, session chair, and organizer for the American Helicopter Society, the European Rotorcraft Forum, and the Asian Rotorcraft Forum. Dr. Wang is a truly global ambassador and promoter for vertical flight and his passion for rotorcraft has benefited the helicopter community for three decades. Dr. Wang's rotorcraft career continues today with the same vigor and enthusiasm as when he started building his first model helicopter.
As of February 9, 2015, AgustaWestland has appointed Dr. Wang as the Senior Vice President of Helicopters and Services Marketing. The company would like Dr. Wang to combine his vast knowledge of rotorcraft technology, products, and market to further enhance the company’s branding and business.