The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) / Bethune-Cookman University (BCU) EcoCAR EV Challenge team is a competitive, driven, and diverse team of students and faculty from the EcoCAR-experienced ERAU component of our team, as well as the new and excited BCU component of our team. Both universities provide extremely unique backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to take on the goals and challenges of the EcoCAR EV Challenge, and we are motivated to take it all on together. Our students are driven by the engineering challenge, academic development, networking, and career development that the unique opportunity of EcoCAR can provide.
For the EcoCAR EV Challenge, Embry-Riddle and Bethune-Cookman have partnered to compete in the EcoCAR EV Challenge together. The team will also convert the 2023 Cadillac LYRIQ from single motor / rear wheel drive, to dual motor / all-wheel drive, with a unique challenge of a two-speed differential on the front drive unit, as well as enhancing the autonomy features of the vehicle.
ERAU has participated in EcoCAR since the first EcoCAR competition (“EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge”) in 2008, where the team converted the Saturn Vue into a 2-mode biodiesel plug-in hybrid, which placed 4th overall in 2009. The team then participated in “EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future”, where the team converted the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu into a biodiesel series hybrid, which placed 5th overall in 2014. After that, the team competed in EcoCAR 3, in which the team converted the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro into a E85 series hybrid, which placed 4th overall in 2015, 3rd overall in 2016, and 2nd overall in 2017. Most recently, the team competed in the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, where the team converted the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer into a parallel-through-the-road hybrid, with some semi-autonomous features.
The ERAU/BCU EcoCAR EV Challenge team is committed to developing a diverse team of students dedicated to furthering our knowledge and skills, and cultivating a collaborative work and learning environment, to achieve our shared goals for competition, education, and professional development. We strive to provide opportunities for all students to learn, grow, and find their launch point into successful careers.
Year 2 Goals
- Across all scored deliverables, events, presentations, and overall competition placement, place at least one position better than the previous competition year. This will be completed by heavily reviewing each previous scorecard for successes and failures, implementing after-action reporting, and adjusting work plans as necessary to establish improved foundations for success.
- Find unique strategies to increase the education opportunity of the competition. However, when making engineering decisions, use thorough and well-developed risk evaluation and mitigation strategies to ensure all decisions are tested, informed, and safe.
- Continue our long-term 100% job/internship placement for involved members trend by providing all team members multiple opportunities for internship and career connections, including beyond competition- provided opportunities.
Douglas Turner is the Project Manager for the Embry-Riddle / Bethune-Cookman EcoCAR EV Challenge Team. He is from Orlando, Florida, and has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (High-Performance Vehicles focus). Currently, he is in his second year of his Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (also High-Performance Vehicles focus). He has a passion for cars, especially competitive and consumer vehicles. Outside of work, he loves to play video games and socialize with his friends, watch racing series like Formula 1 and World Endurance Championship, travel around the world, and explore Florida's unique nature.
ERAU Communications Manager
Skye Myers is a Junior studying Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Robotics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She is the head of the Communications team and focuses heavily on organizing events and outreach, fostering relationships with community members, and completing all deliverables. She has been a member of the team since Year 4 of the mobility challenge, becoming the Communications Manager in Year 1 of the EV challenge. In her free time, she hangs out with friends, studies in Starbucks, or calls her family.
Gianna Rose Distefano
Accessibility and Integration lead
Gianna Rose Distefano is a second-year master's student in Mechanical Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She obtained her bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Biomedical Systems. This is her second year with EcoCAR, serving as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager last year. In her undergraduate, she worked on a project for developing a Silent Speech Interface to be programmed into Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality devices to aid in times when a person is unable to speak out loud, but still needs to communicate with others. She is from New Jersey, has an adorable pet Pac-Man frog named Clementine, and she is currently working on a Road-trip Across America book project where she reads one book that takes place in every state.
Connected Automated Vehicle Systems Co-Lead
Originally being from Massachusetts, Kevin is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering with a focus in Robotics and graduated with his Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Embry-Riddle in May of 2022. Kevin joined EcoCAR in Year 4 of the Mobility Challenge where, for his senior design project, he designed an eye-tracking system for determining driver attentiveness in autonomous vehicles. He has since served as the Connected & Automated Vehicle Systems (CAVs) Team Manager and leads the software development team responsible for enabling SAE Level 2 Autonomy on the 2023 Cadillac LYRIQ. In his free time, Kevin enjoys going to the beach, playing video games, and watching the Patriots on Sundays.
Human Machine Interface & User Experience Team Lead
Molly Mersinger is currently a 3rd year PhD student in Human Factors. She works under Dr. Alex Chaparro in the Applied Perception and Performance Laboratory on Embry-Riddle's campus. Her current research and publications focus on transportation advancements, especially those in Semi-autonomous vehicle technology. She has been an EcoCAR team member since year 4 of the Mobility Challenge. Her best advice for any person considering EcoCAR is to "just go for it. On the HMI/UX team we will always find somewhere to showcase your skills and to teach you more."
Devon has served on Embry-Riddle's EcoCAR team from the past 3 years, dating back to the beginning of Y3 of the EMC. Serving as CAVs lead in Y4 of the EMC and then the Technical Specialist from Y1 of the EVC has enabled him to contribute positively to the team for several years.
SDI Electrical Lead
Currently Tara is attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and working towards a Mechanical Engineering Degree with a concentration in High-Performance Vehicles. She became involved with EcoCAR in 2022, during Year 4 of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge and was able to attend part of the Year 4 Competition in Yuma, Arizona. As the Electrical Lead she is responsible for knowing both the high and low voltage electrical systems on the vehicle and how to work around them safely. Alongside those responsibilities, she also is a Manager and Recruiting Coordinator for Embry-Riddle's NCAA DII Cross Country and Track and Field Teams.
Tianna Brown is a Junior majoring in Computer Science with a minor in mathematics at Bethune- Cookman University. She aspires to pursue her career after college as a data scientist. She is originally from San Diego, California. She enjoys spinning her flag, reading, and volunteering. This is her second semester in EcoCAR as a communications lead for BCU.
Nathan is a bachelor's student in his last semester studying Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in High-Performance Vehicles at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Nathan is planning on attending Embry-Riddle to acquire his Masters as well while remaining involved with the team. This is his second year on the team and he is happy to be contributing as the Systems Design and Integration lead taking on the challenge of repackaging the entire LYRIQ drivetrain. Nathan is from Florida and has two kittens, Scottie and Harry, who are the light of his life.
Connected Automated Vehicle Systems Co-Lead
Meet Santosh Lamichhane, a senior at Bethune-Cookman University majoring in Computer Engineering. At the intersection of code and creativity, Santosh aspires to be a Software Engineer, weaving his passion for technology into innovative solutions. Beyond the binary world, Santosh finds solace in the pages of novels and histories, exploring diverse narratives. A traveler at heart, he seeks new horizons and experiences, blending the realms of both the virtual and the tangible. Santosh Lamichhane, a future Software Engineer and avid explorer of worlds, both real and imagined.
Brian is a master's student studying mechanical engineering with a concentration in high-performance vehicles. He graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a Mechanical Engineering Degree in 2023. It is his second year on the team after having worked on the team during his senior year as a PCM subteam member and is very excited to continue providing his knowledge and experience to the team. During his first year Brian was tasked with the simulation and development of the re-engineering LYRIQ propulsion system. He also has worked on a variety of other projects as an undergraduate such as Formula SAE and Project Thetis, an autonomous beach cleaning robot. Brian enjoys watching most sports such as football, basketball, and hockey and is also likes outdoor activities such as stand up paddleboarding and kayaking.
Lead Faculty Advisor
Patrick Currier is a Professor and Interim Chair of Mechanical Engineering at ERAU. He is a graduate of Tennessee Tech University and earned his MS and Ph.D. at Virginia Tech. His research areas are mechatronics, autonomous systems, and hybrid systems, and he has been involved in student projects for over 20 years including Baja SAE, IGVC, SUAS, Roboboat, Robosub, and RobotX. He has served as the lead advisor for ERAU EcoCAR for EcoCAR 2, EcoCAR 3, EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, and EcoCAR EV Challenge.
Dr. Juan Calderon
Lead Connected Automated Vehicle Systems Faculty Advisor
Juan Calderon is an assistant professor of Computer Science and Engineering at BCU. He is an Electronic Engineer from Santo Tomas University (Colombia), earned his MS at Los Andes University (Colombia), and his Ph.D. at the University of South Florida (USA). His research approaches the field of autonomous multi-agent systems and mobile robotics. Most of his experience focuses on mobile robotics, autonomous navigation, swarm robotics, and image processing. He was the founder and lead of the STox's soccer team for the Small Size league of Robocup from 2009-2017. In addition, he founded and directed the Robotics Lab of GED-USTA 2003-2017. Currently, he is the director of the Mobile Robotics and Intelligent Systems Lab of BCU.
Dr. Barbara Chaparro
Human Machine Interface & User Experience Faculty Advisor
Dr. Barbara Chaparro is a Professor in the Human Factors and Behavioral Neurobiology Department and head of the Research in User eXperience (RUX) Lab at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Dr. Chaparro’s research interests involve human factors, applied human-computer interaction, usability assessment methods, end-user requirement gathering, and augmented/mixed reality experiences. Dr. Chaparro received her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Texas Tech University and worked in the software industry before moving to academia. She has published many research articles and technical reports and regularly presents at Human Factors and Applied HCI conferences.
Please contact our project managers if you have not joined our team but want to. We are always looking for more help with both the technical side and communications sides of our team. No experience is required for new team members, just enthusiasm and patience. Our lab is in the Lehman Engineering Building in room 171A but we also hold meetings virtually and in our Garage!
- HMI/UX Meetings: Tuesdays 5:15 pm-6:15 pm @ College of Arts and Sciences Room 207
- CAVS Meetings: Every other Sunday 12 pm-3 pm @ Lehman Building Room 171A
- General Meetings: Every other Friday 1 pm-2 pm @ Lehman Building Room 171A
ERAU Address: 1 Aerospace Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL 32114
BCU Address: 640 Dr Mary McLeod Bethune Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Douglas Turner, ERAU Project Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamal Burey, BCU Project Manager: email@example.com