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The University of Alabama has been involved in multiple EcoCAR competitions, doing work on the Chevy Camaro in EcoCAR 3, the Chevy Blazer in the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, and most recently has joined the EcoCAR EV Challenge. In year 3 of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, the University of Alabama took 1st place, and then in year 4, took 3rd place.  

With around 100 members, our diverse team attracts the best and brightest students interested in STEM, Business, and DEI initiatives. UA EcoCAR places a high emphasis on undergraduate involvement and allows our members to engage with one another on a variety of multidisciplinary teams.


The University of Alabama EcoCAR team’s mission is to generate mobility solutions that remove barriers, expand knowledge, and develop meaningful experiences for all, forever. At The University of Alabama, our EcoCAR team is setting the standard for the future of the automotive industry. By providing students with an opportunity to gain hands-on experience while implementing the latest technology on a brand-new Chevrolet Blazer, the UA EcoCAR team is unlike any other student group on campus.


  • Offer a distinctive experience for students at the University of Alabama
  • Set exceptional standards for competition deliverables preparation and completion
  • Construct and deliver consumer-centric mobility solutions

Team Members

Dr. Paul Puzinauskas

Lead Faculty Advisor

and instrumentation research. Currently, Dr. Puzinauskas and his students are working in three areas. The first is to improve optical combustion diagnostic capabilities and apply them to internal-combustion-engine analysis. The current focus of these efforts is a project funded by the National Science Foundation to develop a fiber-optic probe to simplify Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) and Laser-Induced Incandescence (LII) in harsh environments. The second area is the optimization of internal-combustion engines used for hybrid-electric-vehicle applications, and the third is to improve the understanding of the combustion kinetics controlling emission formation in diesel-spray combustion.

Dr. Puzinauskas is also involved in a project for the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates Fluid Mechanics with Analysis Using Computations and Experiments Program.

Dr. Hwan-Sik Yoon

Lead Connected Automated Vehicle Systems Faculty Advisor

Dr. Hwan-Sik Yoon’s research interests include modeling, simulation, and control of dynamic systems. His current research efforts are focused on vehicle powertrain systems, hybrid electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and the application of machine learning in automotive engineering. Some of the exemplary projects that Dr. Yoon’s research group has conducted include:

  • Development of a high-fidelity engine modeling framework in Simulink
  • Vision-based estimation and control of excavator manipulator
  • Energy flow analysis tool development for conventional and hybrid electric vehicles
  • Time-to-failure determination for automotive system components using machine learning

Oakley Prell

Project Manager

Oakley Prell joined the team in the Spring of 2021 to onboard to become the Project Manager for Year 4 of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge. He continued in the Project Manager role into Year 1 of the EcoCAR EV Challenge. He is currently pursuing his Master of Business Administration (MBA) after receiving his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alabama. Oakley has also interned at Altec Ind., Lockheed Martin, and General Motors Defense.

Madison O’Brien

Communications Manager

Madison O’Brien is a Sophomore Marketing major and is the Communications Manager for the team. She joined EcoCAR in the 4th year of the Mobility Challenge as the Associate Communications Manager and took over the role of Communications Manager in the Spring of 2022 during the transition into the EcoCAR EV Challenge. She has interned at BILSTEIN Shocks and is also a part of the professional business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi.

Bethany Welty

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Manager

Bethany Welty is a Senior Mathematics major at the University of Alabama and is the DEI Manager for the team. Bethany joined the UA EcoCAR team in Year 3 of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge as a member of the Connected and Automated Vehicles team and the System-Safety team. In Year 4, she became the System-Safety Lead Engineer to aid the team with testing in the final year of the competition. As the University of Alabama gained entry into the EV Challenge, Bethany took on a new position being the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager.

Nik Collins

Systems, Design, & Integration Lead

Nik Collins is a graduate student studying Mechanical Engineering and joined UA EcoCAR in 2020 as a member of the Propulsion Controls and Modelling team. He helped develop the Hardware-in-the-Loop simulator before taking a research position through one of the team's local sponsors starting in the Fall of 2021. Through that year, Nik worked under the Propulsion System Integration (PSI) Lead before becoming the Associate PSI Lead in the Spring of 2022. After finishing the competition, he took over as the System Design and Integration Lead in the Fall of 2022 and will likely hold this position through the rest of the EcoCAR EV Challenge. Outside of EcoCAR, Nik is also a part of the Crimson Car Club.

Hunter White

Propulsion, Controls, & Modeling Lead

Hunter White joined the UA EcoCAR team in 2021 during EcoCAR Mobility Challenge as a Connected and Automated Vehicle team member. He transitioned into the Propulsion Controls and Modeling GRA role at the end of EcoCAR Mobility Challenge and continues to lead the Propulsion Controls and Modeling track in the EcoCAR EV Challenge. He is pursuing his Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering and has interned at Mercedes-Benz United States International, Southern Company Gas, and Mercedes-Benz AG.

Kayla Hamilton

Connected Automated Vehicle Systems Lead

Kayla Hamilton is a PhD student studying Electrical Engineering. She joined the UA EcoCAR team in spring of 2018 during the end of EcoCAR 3 as an electrical team member. With the introduction of CAV in the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, Kayla served as the undergrad CAV associate lead during year 1 of the competition and worked intermittently on the team around studying abroad and completing a co-op before taking over as CAV lead year 4. She is now continuing as CAV lead in the EV challenge.

GET InvolveD

Go to our website, and fill out the prospective member form if you are interested in joining the UA EcoCAR Team.

Contact Information


245 7th Ave, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401