Boris Mandadzhiev

Photograph Boris Mandadzhiev


M.S. Aerospace Engineering
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 2017

B.S. Mechanical Engineering
Worcester Polytechnic Institute 2008


Boris grew up in a picturesque city situated on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. His connections to the civil and military aviation in the region developed his passion for aviation and airplanes from his early childhood. He attended the city’s English Language High School and in 2004 he enrolled in a B.S. program in Mechanical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After graduating in 2008, Boris joined the industry as R&D engineer developing plasma cutting machines and ion implantation tools for the semiconductor industry. In 2015 Boris joined the University of Illinois BAM lab where he continues pursuing his passion for aerodynamics and delivering innovative solutions to technology and science.

Alula-Inspired Structures: A Pathway Towards Mission Adaptability

With the recent advancements in autonomous flight and bioinspired avian systems, mission objectives have become even more demanding. From extremely slow flight regimes to hover and high maneuverability, these systems require clever engineering in controls and aerodynamics. Nature has developed special tools to assist birds with high maneuverability – the alula. Boris’s research is focused on understanding how the alula feather helps birds maintain their maneuverability in very low speeds and high angles of attack. The aerodynamic mechanism is the vortex formation from the tips of the alula feather, which energizes the flow and keeps it attached on the wing, not allowing separation. This produces lift at extreme incident angles and fundamentally improves stability and control, critical for hunting and perching. Such aerodynamic devices are instrumental in the design of the next generation fixed and flapping wing UAVs.