The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) / Bethune-Cookman University (BCU) team is comprised of students from the experienced ERAU Team and the new BCU members. ERAU has participated in EcoCAR since its inception and has a vast knowledge of both the technical elements and the expectations of competition. In this historic moment, ERAU will collaborate with students from BCU who are new to the EcoCAR competition.
The ERAU team is comprised of graduate and undergraduate students with various STEM degrees such as Mechanical Engineering, Human Factors, and Civil Engineering. Embry-Riddle has participated in EcoCAR competitions since 2008, where they converted the Saturn Vue into a 2-mode biodiesel plug-in hybrid which won them fourth place in 2011. After that, the team moved on to the Chevrolet Malibu, finishing in 5th place in 2014, after converting the car to a biodiesel series plug-in hybrid. In EcoCAR 3, the teams were given 4 years per car. The Embry-Riddle team finished in 2nd place in 2018, after taking the basic Camaro and turning it into an 85 series plug-in hybrid. Covid-19 drastically affected the ERAU team during the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge. The competition was from 2018-2022 and during that time, our team converted the Chevrolet Blazer to a hybrid vehicle with semi-autonomous features.
The BCU team is made up of undergraduate students from Computer Science (CS), Computer Engineering (CE), Psychology, and Environmental Science. Initially, the team was motivated by the technological challenge and the opportunity to learn about the technology behind autonomous vehicles as well as computer vision and machine learning. They are also motivated by the opportunity to enter graduate school or be part of a hi-tech company in the area of electric vehicles. Despite their initial motivations, the interest in the social and environmental aspects of EcoCAR has increased students’ interest in technical areas, education, communications, and health sciences. This is their first time in the competition, and they have acquired this opportunity thanks to the partnership with ERAU. Because most of the group belongs to the CS and CE degrees, the team focuses on computer vision and machine learning while applying their knowledge in the areas of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) and Human Machine Interface (HMI). Although their focus is the technical side of the design process, it is also relevant to study the way humans interact with this new technology, and how it will affect society.
Our team’s mission is to develop a multicultural and transdisciplinary group of graduate and undergraduate students who will be adeptly trained to face the different challenges of the evolving automotive industry. They will be the new generation in charge of overcoming the future challenges of mobility and the use of clean energy in our country. We aim to assemble a team capable of understanding and facing the different aspects of the LYRIQ to plan the different strategies that will support the development and participation of the team in the next three years of the competition.
Developing an excellent work plan in the technical aspects (mechanical, electrical, and software), DEI and communications will help lay the foundation for success through the EV Ecocar Challenge. The ERAU/BCU EcoCAR EV Challenge Team is committed to developing a diverse team of students who are dedicated to supporting one another, furthering their knowledge and skills, and cultivating a collaborative work and learning environment, to achieve our shared goals for competition, education, and professional development. The next generation of industry leaders starts here.
- Learning from previous competitions, develop a team strategy that will help us lay the foundations for our success through the EV Ecocar Challenge 2022-2026. This can be achieved by collaborating on systemic improvements with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, communication channels, and knowledge transfer by November 17th, 2022.
- Create a welcoming and inclusive team that seeks to address Equity in Mobility challenges by facilitating innovation from a variety of perspectives. To facilitate this goal, we plan to participate in a minimum of four outreach events per semester with our local campuses and communities.
- Instill a spirit of perseverance, determination, creativity, and innovation through diverse collaboration while pursuing cutting-edge engineering with the purpose of achieving excellence in all areas and placing in the top quartile of the competition for year 1.
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.
Roy Savoca specializes in creating innovative information technology solutions aimed at achieving business goals & objectives. His extensive consulting & operations experience spans planning and managing large-scale projects; process engineering; Health Information Technology, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance; fraud detection and compliance monitoring; performance evaluation and tuning; business analysis and functional requirements definition; user interface; architecture design (new hardware, software, network technology assessment, and integration).
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.
ERAU Project Manager
Brandon Carrier decided to pursue a degree and career in engineering after feeling unfulfilled with his career in retail operations management. He utilized the experience gained over years from working with his father in home remodeling and combined it with his operations management training to begin self-employment in carpentry and home remodeling. This allowed him to achieve financial stability with the flexibility to conform to a changing academic schedule. Furthermore, he has been able to stay involved with various projects to gain practical experience applying concepts and theory to real problems. He contributed to projects such as IEEE autonomous robotics competitions and the AVTC EcoCAR challenges. For both examples, he held project management roles while gaining valuable experience in engineering development processes.
BCU Project Manager
Jamal Burey is a Bethune-Cookman University student currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with a minor in Business Administration. He finds his passion working with a team and visualizing the development of the overall project. He also loves to get involved in a more technical space which ranges from coding to mechanical & hardware implications. He enjoys being actively involved in EcoCAR as well as a leader in the Marching Band Program at his University.
ERAU Communications Manager
Skye Myers is a sophomore at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University from Middleboro, Massachusetts. She is a Mechanical Engineering (Robotics Track) major with minors in computer science, chemistry, and Russian studies. Her interests lie in automotive and marine engineering as well as software engineering. This is her second year with EcoCAR and she is excited to be the Communications Manager this year. On campus, she is extremely involved with her sorority, Tri Sigma, and she is a Lab Assistant for first-year chemistry lab students.
BCU Communications Manager
Tanyaradzwa (Tanya) Chisepo is an international student from Zimbabwe who is very passionate about technology and its intersection with other fields. She enjoys learning and satisfying my curiosity about new concepts in the tech field. She sees herself as this multipotential individual who has several different interests, and she hopes to promote that explorative spirit inside.
Israel F. Oyekan
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion BCU Manager
Israel F Oyekan is a Computer Engineering major at Bethune Cookman University. He has interests in Software engineering and development as well as Hardware engineering. His interest in hardware deals with the automotive industry and he is open to professional growth and learning everything he can.
Gianna Rose Distefano
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion ERAU Manager
Gianna Rose Distefano, is a first-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 first year with EcoCAR and she is very excited to be one of the DEI Managers for the Embry-Riddle/Bethune-Cookman team. 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 likes to make her own earrings out of polymer clay.
Systems, Design, & Integration Lead
Douglas Turner is the Systems Design and Integration Team Lead for the Embry-Riddle / Bethune-Cookman EcoCAR EV Challenge team. He is from Orlando, Florida, and has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering (High-Performance Vehicles focus). Currently, he is in the first year of his master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering (also High-Performance Vehicles focus). He has a passion for cars, including both competitive and consumer vehicles. Outside of work, he loves to play video games and go to video game-related events, watch racing series like Formula 1 and the World Rally Championship, travel around the world, explore Florida’s unique nature, and go to Epcot with his friends and family.
Propulsion, Controls, & Modeling Lead
Rachel Abbott has been involved in EcoCAR since Year 3 of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge. She started on the PCM team working on inverter/motor calibration and was involved in some of the controller design and testing. She has also worked with the CAVs team to develop the ACC/V2X controller before becoming the PCM Lead this year. She is from Orlando, Florida, and graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering in the High-Performance Vehicle track and a Minor in Applied Mathematics. She is currently pursuing a Master's in Mechanical Engineering with a specialty in High-Performance Vehicles and plans to graduate in Spring 2023.
Connected Automated Vehicle Systems Lead
Kevin Boyle is from Millis Massachusetts, a small town an hour southwest of Boston. He graduated from Xaverian Brothers High School in 2017 where he played football (Back2Back MIAA D1 State Champions) and was also on the Varsity Swim Team for 4 years and captain his senior year. Kevin graduated with a bachelor's in mechanical engineering from Embry-Riddle in 2022 and is currently pursuing his master's degree. He is a brother of the Delta Upsilon International Fraternity and was Vice President of the chapter for a year and a half. During his last year of undergraduate in Senior Design, he was a part of the EcoCAR 4 CAV/s team and specifically was responsible for designing the driver monitoring system. In his free time, he plays PC games (I have over 7,000 hours logged in Steam), bodysurfs at the beach, and hangs out with his friends.
Human Machine Interface & User Experience Team Lead
Molly Mersinger is a second year Ph.D. student in Human Factors at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She works in the Applied, Perception, and Performance Laboratory under Dr. Alex Chaparro. Their lab consists of a lot of transportation research with projects involving the automotive, motorcycle, helicopter, and aerospace industries. One of her favorite aspects of the Human Factors domain is human-machine interface and user experience (HMI/UX). She loves creating prototypes and interfaces using tools like Figma, Adobe XD, and Axure. Her goal one day is to work in the automotive field assisting in the advancements in vehicle autonomy and user satisfaction and safety.
Devon is a second year masters student pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. He is passionate about robotic and autonomous systems and enjoys working on perception systems. Devon began his EcoCAR experience as a Senior Design student on the CAVs team working on the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge where he developed key skills to enable him to serve as Technical Specialist today. Devon is always excited to see new students join EcoCAR and help them as he is able.
Senior Design Liaison
Since pursuing a Mechanical Engineering degree with a specialization in High-Performance Vehicles, Marcus has been aspiring to a career in the automotive sector, in particularly motorsport. He joined EcoCAR because he was looking for exposure to vehicle testing, data analysis, and optimization, which he could then translate to the workforce. In year 4 of EcoCAR 4, he was onboarded as the Propulsion Controls & Modelling Coordinator and served as Communications Manager, learning many of the above-mentioned skills and more. These positions gave him valuable experience that allowed him to earn a Race Engineer Internship at Racers Edge Motorsport, a championship winning GT3 Sportscar team. Upon completion of the internship, he was onboarded as a Junior Engineer for the remainder of the season. Moving into the EcoCAR EV Challenge, he is looking forward to the preliminary design he will be doing as a Senior Design Student and hopes to develop something truly unique.
Planning Committee Manager
Currently Tara is attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and working towards a Mechanical Engineering Degree on the High-Performance Vehicles Track. She became involved with EcoCAR in the spring of 2022 and was able to attend part of the competition for Year 4 of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge in Yuma, Arizona. As head of the Planning Committee this year, she assists the Project Manager and other Team Leads with scheduling and organizing various events. Alongside those commitments and responsibilities, she also runs with and competes for Embry-Riddle’s NCAA DII Cross Country and Track and Field teams.
Kevin Walsh is a first-generation college student, born and raised in Daytona Beach. He is a mechanical engineering major at Embry-Riddle studying for his bachelor’s degree. He enjoys all types of sports, fishing, riding skateboards, riding my segway, learning about anything related to engineering, solving various models of Rubik’s cube, and hanging out with friends and family. Kevin really enjoys learning new mathematical concepts in engineering, as well as the design of engines, and the math that goes into designing different engine configurations. He is also new to a team called Turtle Tech, which use drones to collect behavioral data on sea turtles. Research for this project is completed in the Micaplex.
Savannah Mitchell is from the small town of Waterloo, Illinois. Currently, she is a junior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in high-performance vehicles and a minor in Business. On campus, she is highly involved with her sorority, Alpha Xi Delta, with her leadership position as the Communications Vice President as well as being an active member of EcoCAR.
Ethan Billette is a freshman with an interest in mechanical engineering. He loves working on cars, 3D printing, playing videogames, and antique machines. Ethan is curious and enjoys improving and applying his engineering skills. He is interested in the future of automobiles, and the automotive industry is one sector he can see himself working in, alongside aerospace.
Adelina Kachinda is a sophomore at Bethune Cookman University majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics.
Aldridge Muhanga Kalenga
Aldridge Muhanga Kalenga is an international student from Zambia currently attending Bethune-Cookman University, as a returning freshman. He loves learning, growing, and having a good time, and is excited to be part of EcoCAR.
Bongiwe Sandi Nandi Mkwananzi
Bongiwe Sandi Nandi Mkwananzi is an International Student from Zimbabwe. She is a freshman majoring in Computer Science.
Brionna Alexander is a senior majoring in Computer Engineering; minoring in Computer Science and Business Administration at Bethune-Cookman University. She currently interns at NASA in the Systems Engineering department for the past 3 years. She is very excited to be participating in EcoCAR so she can extend her knowledge of autonomous vehicles and subjects revolving around the concept.
Chibundu Awandu is an international student from Nigeria, majoring in Computer Engineering with a minor in computer science. He aspires to become a Software Engineer.
Jackinson Marcellus is a senior attending Bethune-Cookman University, majoring in Computer Engineering. He enjoys learning and being a part of the EcoCAR competition. From contributing to the coding aspect of the competition to applying some hands-on experience, EcoCAR has been a great experience for his academic career.
Mulenga Ngulale is a sophomore majoring in computer engineering and minoring in math. He is from Zambia and is interested in exploring the fields of robotics, data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and software development.
Providence Pangira is an international student from Zimbabwe, majoring in Biology with a minor in computer science. He is passionate about software design and computer programming.
Raphael Boakye is a freshman in his second semester at Bethune-Cookman University. He is a biology major with a minor in Computer Science and has a keen interest in biology and computer programming.
Santosh Lamichhane is a junior at Bethune-Cookman University, majoring in Computer Engineering and aspiring to be a Software Engineer.
Uchenna Njoku is a Computer Science Student at Bethune-Cookman University. He is an international student hailing from Montego Bay, Jamaica, and is intrigued by the intersection of computer science, mathematics, and everyday life.
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!
- Communications Meetings: Tuesdays & Thursdays 12 pm-2 pm @ Lehman Building Room 171A
- 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
- Planning Committee Meetings: Tuesday 6 pm-7 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
Brandon Carrier, ERAU Project Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamal Burey, BCU Project Manager: email@example.com