Lockheed Martin has donated $3m to the University of Maryland’s school of engineering to fund ongoing research into vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) technology.

The three-year award will fund the university’s rotorcraft lab and support research into hypersonic flight using the school’s hypersonic wind tunnel.

Lockheed Martin has invested heavily in flight research at the University of Maryland, with the company spending $19m over the past decade.

In August, a team from the university won an international competition to design a rotorcraft capable of operating at high altitudes for mountain rescue operations.

Lockheed Martin chief technology officer, Keoki Jackson, said: “Lockheed Martin has partnered with the University of Maryland for more than seven decades, and we are proud to continue that successful relationship with this contribution supporting aerospace innovation.

“We expect to hire 50,000 STEM professionals over the next decade, and together we will inspire the next generation of engineers to join us in creating breath-taking generation-after-next technology.”

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Founded in 1982, the University of Maryland’s rotorcraft lab has an ongoing relationship with the US Armed Forces, with its research being used by US government departments including DARPA and NASA.

Clark School Dean and Farvardin Professor of Engineering Darryll J. Pines said: “For 75 years, Lockheed Martin has played a significant role in the storied history of the A. James Clark School of Engineering, and we are proud to continue our relationship as the recipient of Lockheed Martin’s largest gift of the year to any institution.

“This generous gift will empower Clark School students and faculty to remain at the forefront of innovation in aerospace technology, and to advance our commitment to a diverse and inclusive engineering community.”

Lockheed Martin said the funding would also fund schemes to enrol underrepresented minority students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses.

Lockheed Martin has had a long-running relationship with the university, with the company holding a collaboration agreement feeding university research into products and systems.