Giving back and coming back: Young alum’s business helps propel future aviation professionals

Posted: December 29, 2020

The gray metal hangars at The Ohio State University Airport (KOSU) feel like a second home to aviation alumnus Carlos Muller (Air Transportation, ’18). He spent four years working at the airport as a student, and, now that he’s graduated, he hasn’t left. Muller is co-founder and CEO of Imperial Aviation, LLC an airport tenant and start-up hosting current aviation students for capstone projects.

Image of Carlos Muller in front of an aircraft
Carlos Muller, CEO of Imperial Aviation in a hangar at KOSU | submitted

“In May of 2019 Imperial Aviation Services was established with the goal of providing premier aircraft detailing services to aircraft in Central Ohio,” he shared.

After launch, Muller and his team quickly saw positive results. “In our first year we successfully won a contract with the Ohio State flight school. Ever since then we have done jobs for other based tenants at the airport, transient jets and other aircraft from area airports.”

But with great outcomes and only a year in the books, Muller knew he wanted to share his lessons learned.

“I’m passionate about entrepreneurship in aviation,” said Muller, who also works at NetJets Inc. “Having had guidance from aviation professionals when I was a student, I knew I wanted to give back by providing opportunities for current students.”

His first opportunity was right around the corner. The Center for Aviation Studies approached Muller over the summer, asking if he would be willing to host a student who had lost her internship due to COVID-19 disruptions.

According to Muller, “The project was such a success that the center asked me if I would be interested in sponsoring a fall aviation capstone. That was too good to pass up and I was excited for the opportunity.”

Image of three students and a blue windtunnel
Group members Mac Kirk and Emilio Suarez, with Graduate Teaching Assistant Noah Gula, who assists with the wind tunnel, left to right | submitted

Fast-forward to the end of autumn semester 2020. Imperial Aviation’s first capstone group completed their project and formally presented their findings to Muller, along with airport and center leadership.

The project challenged students to research the efficacy of Flight Shield ceramic coating. Advised by CAS lecturer Shawn Pruchnicki, the group utilized a wind tunnel in the College of Engineering to make an initial assessment of the product’s effect on aircraft ground speed and fuel burn.

Not only did the students benefit from Muller’s mentorship through weekly check-ins, but Imperial Aviation saw a direct impact as well.

Image of Emilio Suarez and Carlos Muller in the airport's pilot lounge
Group member Emilio Suarez with Muller | submitted

“The objective of the project was to determine whether Flight Shield ceramic coating, a service we offer, improves aircraft fuel efficiency, as the product describes,” commented Muller. “If it does, then this could be something Imperial Aviation could reference as a selling point to our customers who have a large operational scale and could provide them fuel savings overall.”

With the controlled testing set to be completed in the wind tunnel in January, the students – Jeremy Bridges, Jesse Chandler, Mac Kirk, Joel Salinas and Emilio Suarez – will document their findings for potential real-world testing by a future capstone group.

For Muller, supporting a capstone project has been rewarding. “The ladder of training future industry leaders to progress and become more knowledgeable is essential to continuing to develop and expand the industry,” he said.

“Imperial Aviation looks forward to continuing to sponsor aviation capstone projects at Ohio State.”

Learn more about the capstone program participation by visiting https://aviation.osu.edu/capstone.

by Holly Henley, communications specialist

Categories: StudentsGiving