Embry-Riddle Teams with Ascent to Help Urban Air Mobility Reach New Heights in Southeast Asia

A screenshot of a Zoom meeting with ERAU-Asia’s MBAA students that completed a real-world Urban Air Mobility (UAM) project with an industry player, Ascent.
ERAU-Asia’s MBAA students completed a real-world Urban Air Mobility (UAM) project with an industry player, Ascent.

In another example of close collaboration between Embry-Riddle’s Asia Campus and leading aviation and aerospace companies, four students in the Master of Business Administration in Aviation program (MBAA) recently teamed up with Urban Air Mobility pioneer Ascent to conduct an opportunity assessment and feasibility study, followed by a strategy for real-world execution.

"It was a challenging yet rewarding business project,” said Francis St. Louis, one of the Embry-Riddle students involved in the project, guided by Embry-Riddle Assistant Professor and Academic Officer Dr. Jack Patel. “With good organization, clear division of the roles and responsibilities, and regular communication, the team delivered a high standard quality study.”

Ascent Founder and CEO Lionel Sinai-Sinelnikoff said collaborating with Embry-Riddle, a nexus for aviation education, “was natural and rewarding from a business perspective as well as from a human one.”

Ascent began operations in 2018 in the Philippines and is now expanding throughout Southeast Asia, striving to make urban air mobility a scalable and sustainable solution. The project with Embry-Riddle could be the first of many future partnerships, Sinai-Sinelnikoff said.

“The students have delivered a rich work that will enable us to approach our next steps with a higher level of knowledge of our coming opportunities and challenges in this region,” he said. “I look forward to collaborating on further projects with Embry-Riddle.”

The global UAM market has been experiencing high growth in the past few years, with a valuation of USD $5.3 billion in 2018 that is expected to increase to USD $15.2 billion by 2030. Between 2018 and 2030, the anticipated compound annual growth rate of the UAM market is around 11.33%.

This growth is led by multiple factors such as increase in demand for electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOLs) for intracity and intercity transportation, as well as demand for autonomous eVTOLs for commercial applications.

While the project was intensive because of its sheer scale and that students had to work remotely, there was a sense of fulfillment for everyone involved, including Dr. Patel.

“Besides helping to solve real-world problems for the benefit of the local and regional aviation industry, a major by-product is the level of exposure and experience gained by our Embry-Riddle students in being able to participate in a real-world research project that has the potential to transform lives of local communities in the region,” Dr. Patel said.

The importance of the effort and all they were able to gain from it was clear to the students.

“The team embraced the challenges we faced, communicated clearly, and were open to constructive criticism,” St. Louis said. “We trusted each other and respected different opinions. The lessons learned on how we planned, organized, and produced the study will be valuable for my career and personal development, since it was an actual business project.”