First-in-the-Nation Electric Plane Energizes Career Aspirations of Aerospace Engineering Student

A little airplane may have an outsized impact on Elise Medhus’s future.

The cozy, two-seat Pipistrel Velis Electro was acquired by Florida Tech this year, making the university the first in the nation to own and fly an electric plane. The plane will give students the opportunity for experiential learning with cutting-edge technology.

For Medhus, a senior from Kolsås, Norway, majoring in aerospace engineering, the addition of the Velis Electro to Florida Tech’s fleet presents a potentially career-defining opportunity. And it will further enhance her major, which was a big reason she came to Melbourne.

“I wanted to study aerospace engineering, which is an undergrad degree that is not available in Norway,” she said.

We asked Medhus to talk about the Velis Electro and what it means to her.

Florida Tech: What excites you about Florida Tech’s acquisition of this electric plane?

Elise Medhus: What excites me is to see that Florida Tech has its eyes on new technology that is more efficient and environmentally friendly and that they can see the role electric propulsion will have in the future of aviation.

Florida Tech: How does having access to this aircraft, and being able to learn about it and experience it, help shape your career aspirations?

Elise Medhus: Ever since I started learning about electric aircraft, I knew that I wanted to build my career around them. However, the industry is still young, hence, there’s not a lot of research opportunities at universities. Therefore, having the Velis Electro at Florida Tech is an incredible opportunity for students like me to experience, test and learn about electric aircraft that are not available at other universities. I believe this is the best opportunity I could possibly get as a student to gain knowledge and experience towards my career goals. 

Florida Tech: What does it mean as a student to be able to get this sort of hands-on learning?

Elise Medhus: It means a lot to be able to get this hands-on learning experience as it puts a new perspective on everything I learn in the classroom and in my textbooks. It provides a better understanding of how an electric aircraft operates and performs by seeing, feeling and experiencing the technology.

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