Earlier this month, a team from Aurora assembled the 30-ft long prototype aircraft inside EMCC’s Communiversity. Located less than 5 miles from Aurora’s advanced manufacturing site in Columbus, Mississippi, The Communiversity is a state-of-the art facility dedicated to training students for careers in modern manufacturing. EMCC also uses the space to host group tours for area K-12 students. The PAV display is intended to pique the interest of tomorrow’s engineers and technicians, who may choose a career in the aerospace industry.
Emily Thornberry is an engineering intern at Aurora and led the project to assemble the PAV display. “I think autonomous vehicles are exciting and represent the future,” Thornberry said. “The impact something like this can have on young minds is awesome.”
PAV is an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) prototype with twin booms on each side of the aircraft supporting eight lift rotors and a cruise propeller located in the rear. Designed to carry two passengers but no pilot, PAV provides unique insights into areas such as autonomy, electric propulsion, and flight operations for next-generation air vehicles.
“PAV is carbon fiber construction, which means it is extremely lightweight; every individual component of this aircraft can easily be picked up by hand,” said Cody Hardin, manufacturing engineer for Aurora Flight Sciences. “Composite structures are critical in advanced aircraft manufacturing and a big part of what we do at Aurora’s facility in Mississippi.”
Aurora also participates in an EMCC Workforce and Community Services course called Composite Manufacturing & Assembly, taught at The Communiversity. The 12-week course covers basic manufacturing skills, as well as processes related to carbon fiber composite manufacturing similar to what Aurora uses in its production environment. Upon successful course completion, students are given the opportunity to interview for an internship with the company. Many permanent team members have been welcomed through this program, with several continuing to advance their careers within Aurora.
“Aurora innovates, builds, and flies aircraft at the cutting-edge of aerospace technology,” says Per Beith, President and CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences. “It’s through technical ingenuity and know-how that our team in Mississippi advances the future of flight. Joining with EMCC gives us the valuable opportunity to support the development of modern manufacturing skills and foster STEM education in the local community.”
EMCC’s Camp AMP introduces junior high and high school students to STEM careers through hands-on experiences. Aurora supports Camp AMP by offering site tours and rocketry. Rocket camp sessions teach students how to build and fly a small model rocket, introducing them to the basics of flight and hobbyist-level construction skills through an immersive and engaging activity.
“We are very grateful for the support Aurora Flight Sciences has offered EMCC over the years, both in the classroom and through programs such as Camp AMP,” EMCC President Dr. Scott Alsobrooks said. “Our partnership with Aurora is invaluable to our institution and to the students we serve.”
Students of all ages are encouraged to visit The Communiversity to view PAV on display and learn about technical training programs that develop the modern manufacturing skills needed for careers in the aerospace industry. To learn more about Aurora’s work in urban air mobility, click here.