Patrick Highland

“As an experimental test pilot in the United States Air Force pursuing a PhD, there is absolutely no better place in the world for me to further my education than at the Operator Performance Lab. I am getting a world-class education in a community I would love to return to in the future.”

Hometown: Churchville, Md.

Year: Second-year PhD student

Program: Industrial Engineering

Mission Area: Aerospace Technology

Lab: Operator Performance Laboratory

AdvisorTom "MACH" Schnell, professor of industrial and systems engineering

What brought you to the Iowa Technology Institute?

The Iowa Technology Institute (ITI) is home to the Operator Performance Laboratory (OPL). OPL is one of the few university laboratories in the world conducting airborne, operationally relevant combat aviation research. Additionally, I am very thankful to be afforded the opportunity to serve as pilot-in-command for those OPL research flights. 

What do you do at the University of Iowa?

I am a graduate research assistant at OPL. I also serve as a safety and test pilot in the L-29 and other OPL aircraft. Outside of ITI, I enjoy working with the local Air Force Reserve Officer Training Detachment to further cadet interest in STEM fields.

What do you work on and what do you enjoy most about your work? 

The vast majority of OPL projects focus on increasing the safety, performance, and satisfaction of the warfighter. For OPL, the warfighter typically comes in the form of a combat aviator. That cause is what I championed in my previous assignment as an experimental test pilot. Within that passion for the warfighter, I have been focused on understanding trust and reliability in combat aviation manned-unmanned teams.