top of page
  • Writer's pictureVTMAG

BETA Technologies Upward Trajectory

Updated: Sep 2, 2022

A compelling Q&A with the talented team at BETA Technologies

Walking through BETA Technologies’ main headquarters on Airport Drive in Burlington, the atmosphere is every bit as electric as the brilliantly-designed motors that power their aircraft. For the past five years, the skilled team members at BETA Technologies have been designing, building, testing and fine-tuning a series of revolutionary aeronautic prototypes.

Their hard work has paid off in the form of cutting-edge electric aircraft, which promise to radically transform the future of the cargo transportation industry. In addition, BETA Technologies is currently developing a nationwide infrastructure network of charging stations. Once complete, the network will enable BETA Technologies’ aircraft to transport cargo (and eventually people) directly from one location to another. This will drastically change the hub and spoke model of today, replacing central distribution centers with point-to-point logistics, which will help the businesses who partner with BETA Technologies significantly lessen their carbon footprint. If the early fruits of BETA Technologies’ labors are any indication, their upward trajectory is only just beginning. BETA Technologies’ current electric aircraft model, the ALIA-250c, serves as a stunning testament to the power of uncompromising innovation and hard work. The shape of the novel aircraft was inspired by the wide wingspan of an Arctic tern. It was thoughtfully engineered in a manner that allows it to carry cargo with optimum energy efficiency. The ALIA-250c also stands apart from other aircraft due to the fact that it can take off and land vertically. This capability enables the ALIA-250c to directly access pick-up and drop-off locations during cargo deliveries without an airport runway. Every stage of the aircraft’s design, testing and construction was overseen by BETA Technologies’ team members, who are proud to be part of a fast-growing company at the forefront of Burlington’s burgeoning technological renaissance. As BETA Technologies continues its unrelenting pursuit of aeronautic excellence, several of their team members sat down with VERMONT Magazine to answer questions about the nature of their work, their ties to the Green Mountain State, and the work culture at BETA Technologies. Working together as a tightly-knit team, they perfectly exemplify the industrious and community-centered Vermont values on which BETA Technologies was founded.

The ALIA-250c takes flight over Lake Champlain

Lan Vu

Electrical Engineer

Q: How did you end up working at BETA Technologies?

A: I was born in Berlin, Vermont, and I moved to Essex for high school. BETA Technologies’ Founder, Kyle Clark, was one grade ahead of me at Essex High School. After graduating high school, I went to UVM, where I majored in Electrical Engineering. I’ve always been good at math and science, so it was a logical step for me. After I graduated from UVM in 2003, I moved to Connecticut. I returned to Vermont in 2007 to work at General Dynamics in Williston, where I worked on classified military projects as a systems engineer. I took some time off when I was pregnant with my first child in 2010, and I took a job at Dynapower later that year. At the time, Kyle Clark was working as the Director of Engineering at Dynapower. It was a nice moment when I first saw him, because I recognized him from high school. I started off as a technician at Dynapower, then moved up to a documentation role and eventually a planning role. In 2017, Kyle offered me a job at BETA Technologies. It was a timely transition, because I was ready to get back into full-time engineering work. I saw it as an exciting opportunity to try something different, so I joined BETA Technologies as one of its earliest team members.

Q: How would you describe the nature of the work that you do at BETA Technologies?

A: I work with our manufacturing department to build the batteries for the aircraft. My job is to take what the design team comes up with and make sure that we can actually build it. I work on the build line and take the batteries from a single-cell level all the way up to the pack level. I maintain the batteries and make sure that they are healthy and functional. I also participate in flight tests. Just the other day, I was over in Plattsburgh watching the ALIA-250c fly for a few hours. I like to be there for all of the different stages of the process.

Q: What are the best things about working at BETA Technologies?

A: I’ve been working here for five years, but it still doesn’t even feel like work on most days. When I come in, I’m always doing something different. I’m not stuck doing the same thing over and over again. We have company-wide meetings every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday where people share what they are working on and openly communicate with one another. If the leader of one department hears something that might affect the team members in their department and the work that they are doing, they can reach out directly to another department leader to learn more about it. You can always check in with other people to get a better understanding of what’s going on, and that’s incredibly important to me.

Q: I understand that you are a pilot yourself. What role does that play in your life and your work at BETA Technologies?

A: When I first got my private pilot’s license, my mother surprised me when she told me that I had fulfilled my father’s dream of flying. I had no idea that my father had trained to become a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War! He’s been passionate about aviation ever since then, so I was very happy to know that I was carrying on his dream. I’ve learned everything I know about aviation since I first started working at BETA, and it’s become a big part of my life. I’ve gotten the chance to fly some of the planes that we have here, and last summer, I competed in the Green Mountain Aerobatics Contest here in Vermont. It was a lot of fun.

Q: What do you love most about living in Vermont?

A: Up here in Vermont, when you walk around, you’re bound to run into someone you know. When I was working down in Connecticut, I missed the small town feel that I had grown up with. I enjoy going to nature spots and going camping with my family, and I also love being able to work with young people who are interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) up here. Vermont Works for Women reached out to me a few years ago, and I went over to the Burlington Tech Center for one of their STEM events. I helped them run a workshop in which we built circuitry for the propellers and LED lights on balsa wood model planes. When the girls that I was working with finally figured out how to do it, the expressions on their faces were unforgettable. Those opportunities are priceless, and it felt great to be able to play a part in helping young women who are interested in STEM follow that path.

Matt Cherouny

Manufacturing Engineer

Q: How did you end up working at BETA Technologies?

A: I moved to South Burlington from Baltimore when I was four years old. My dad had a Triumph six-cylinder motorcy- cle. I got to work with him on it when I was young, and I started working on automo- tive engines and learning how to fix them while I was attending South Burlington High School. They had some good shop classes there, and their former Principal, Patrick Burke, was great. I applied to UVM after high school and deferred my entry for a year after I got in. During that time, I talked to my grandfather about the possibility of majoring in engineering. My grandfather was an engineer who got his degree in engineering through the GI Bill. He told me that he thought it was a great idea and that I should go for it. I loved going to school at UVM, so I stuck around Vermont after I graduated. During my time at UVM, a man named Jason King hired me as an Intern at Green Mountain Coffee. I ended up working for Green Mountain Coffee after I got my degree from UVM, and I helped to expand their business significantly. I opened five manufacturing plants for them, one of which I opened as an intern when I was studying at UVM! I worked with them as a Manufacturing Project Manager and Manufacturing Engineer until 2012, when I decided to create a startup company, Cast Touring, with my friend Lars Ayers-Chickering. I worked with him on making a manufacturable version of the adaptable ski bindings that he and his brother, Silas, had developed. In 2015, I left Cast Touring, and I traveled around for a year before I ended up at Tesla in 2016. I worked at Tesla as a Manufacturing Engineer and helped them to expand their manufacturing plants during the launch phase of the Model X. By the time that I left Tesla several years later in 2020, they had grown from 6,000 employees to 45,000. I knew that it was time for a change. Coincidentally, my friend, fellow UVM alumnus and Tesla colleague, Sean Donovan, had already started working at BETA Technologies. When I heard about the work that BETA Technologies was doing in Vermont through Sean, I became increasingly interested. Eventually, I got to the point where I couldn’t resist, and I made the decision to apply to join the BETA Technologies team.

Matt Cherouny with his grandfather. Note the Vermont sweatshirt!

Q: How would you describe the nature of the work that you do at BETA Technologies?

A: My job is to build our capability to effectively manufacture the ALIA-250c aircraft. We have a team of incredible engineers here who are working on the math and design work that goes into building a safe electric aircraft, but manufacturing the aircraft on a large scale is a different matter entirely. You can have the best design in the world, but if you can’t put your aircraft together in a way that is high-quality and high-safety, it’s not going anywhere. My goal is to make BETA’s transition into manufacturing as seamless and effective as possible.

Q: What are the best things about working at BETA Technologies?

A: I really like having a personal connection to the success of the company that I work for. At BETA Technologies, I truly get to see the impact of my work on a daily basis. When I first came to BETA for my initial interview, I got the chance to talk with our COO, Blain Newton, face-to-face. We had a deep and honest conversation that went well beyond the scope of my technical abilities. He asked me about my values, and we talked about BETA’s work culture. I saw that there was a real community here, and I also saw that people were very intentional in their approach to their work. Kyle Clark recently said in a meeting that BETA Technologies is a family effort. I see that statement reflected in the way that BETA is growing a culture of connection and integrating itself into the greater Vermont community. I always feel like I’m a part of something great when I work here, and that’s something that’s hard to find.

Q: What do you love most about living in Vermont?

A: Vermont is an easy place to love. If you come and spend some time here, you’re going to want to stay. You just have to visit once and have a friend show you the amazing natural sites here in order to fall in love with it. I’m an avid skier, and Ver- mont has amazing ski resorts. I also love

hiking the Lincoln Gap. On an average day in Vermont, you can go Mountain Biking in a beautiful place like Stowe and grab some Cabot cheese and freshly-made cider doughnuts on the way home. I’m excited to see Vermont’s tech and aerospace sector continue to grow, as well. I think there’s a lot of potential here. Innovation is everywhere in Vermont, and Vermont has an incredible culture of unique and outside-the-box thinking. You see it here at BETA, you see it at places like HULA in Burlington, and you see it in many other areas all around the state. Vermont is a place of boundless opportunity.

Chris Doyle

Fabricator and Prototype Engineer

Q: How did you end up working at BETA Technologies?

A: When I first moved to Vermont in 1981, I worked at a restaurant in Waitsfield. While I was there, I met a bartender who was also the manager of a ski repair shop at Sugarbush Resort. I ended up working with him for the next 13 winters. During that time, I also worked occasionally for a low-level airshow pilot. He taught me how to fix and fly planes when I was working for him. In 1988, Sugarbush began to allow snowboarders on the mountain. Soon afterwards, I started traveling around the country, teaching ski tuning and ski binding maintenance at ski mechanics workshops. Most of the techs who showed up for the ski classes I taught didn’t know how to tune snowboards, so I had to teach them using ski tuning equipment. In 1992, I got the opportunity to play an integral role in the founding of a company called, ”Grindrite.” We made grinding machines that were specifically designed and built for snowboards. I worked closely with the talented Burlington-based designer, Michael Jager, on developing the brand. Soon after, I got to meet Jake Burton for the first time at the Burton U.S. Open at Stratton Mountain in 1993. I eventually took an offer from him to work at Burton in 1996, and I came on board there as their Assistant Binding Product Manager. I left Burlington in 1998 to fly a small propeller plane across the country. It was a 1947 Luscombe with an 85-horsepower engine. I flew it out to Oceanside, California, and I spent the next few years living in New Mexico. I stayed in contact with Burton the entire time, and I continued to work with their riders. I flew my plane back to Vermont in 2001, and I worked at Burton for the next 19 years. In my last few years at Burton, I led senior engineering teams from the University of Vermont. One day, an engineering student that I worked with told me about a company that was building electric aircraft in Burlington. I started hearing more and more about BETA Technologies from that point on. When Jake Burton died, everything changed for me. It was a real personal loss. Around the same time, I went to see Kyle Clark speak at Generator Makerspace in Burlington. I met Kyle that night, and we started talking about flying. I gave him my card before I left, and we started communicating through e-mail. I came to visit him at the BETA campus one day, and he asked me to help him solve a technical issue. I started working on a project for him at my home workshop, and he eventually offered me a job at BETA. He flew down to my house in a little red helicopter on the day he made the offer, and I made the decision to come on board as a team member at BETA Technologies in May 2020.

Q: How would you describe the nature of the work that you do at BETA Technologies?

A: My job is to help other team members in any way that I can. If someone needs something done in a hurry, I’m going to do everything within my power to make it happen. Even if they are a skilled

machinist, I will help them make the most of the tools that we have at our disposal. I step in whenever I am needed to help minimize cost and maximize production. For example, I’m currently working in the hangar and putting flight controls into an aircraft. Earlier today, five team members came into my workshop. They all needed to know where different tools were. I’ve developed considerable flexibility and mental agility over the course of my career, so I’m able to help our team members effectively navigate their challenges and succeed in completing their tasks.

Q: What are the best things about working at BETA Technologies?

A: Working at BETA now gives me the same feeling I had when I first started working at Burton in the mid-1990s. There is an energetic crew of dedicated, passionate, and smart team members here at BETA, and we are led by people who are determined to bring their dreams into reality. Working for Burton was a fantastic experience, and working for BETA Technologies is equally rewarding. Jake Burton and Kyle Clark have a very similar energy, and Kyle’s visionary thinking and tireless work ethic closely parallel the leadership qualities that Jake brought to Burton. It feels amazing to work with people who believe in what they are trying to accomplish, and I feel very empowered working here.

Q: What do you love most about living in Vermont?

A: There are more reasons to love Vermont than I can count. Ever since I first drove across the border into Vermont, I’ve felt like I’m at home here. People in Vermont are open to cooperating with others regardless of their differences, and Vermonters are also very independently-minded. I think that’s why there are so many successful entrepreneurs in Vermont. People have the drive to make things happen here, and they have the vision to match that drive. Here at BETA, we really believe that we can make the world a better place, and we also believe that work can be done in Vermont. We work together as a team and apply our skills and our passion on a daily basis, and the results are truly incredible to see.

312 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page