Since 1988, more than 16,500 students have graduated from the advanced vehicle technology competition (AVTC) program. Throughout the years, these students have gone on to work in different areas of the automotive industry all over the world. Read how these alumni started in the AVTC program and where they are below!
When Aaron Sullivan was a kid, he spent time reading Car and Driver while his parents prepared lessons for English courses. While he always had an interest in cars, he didn’t always know how they were designed and built…
The knowledge I gained through AVTCs let me walk directly out of school into a seasoned workforce without any additional training.
Since he can remember, NCSU EcoCAR alumnus Ali Seyam has had an interest in the automotive industry. Other interests have come and gone through the years, but his passion for autos stuck.
Allison Kotewicz joined the Colorado State University EcoCAR 2 team as the Energy Storage Systems project manager during her senior year as a mechanical engineering student.
I have always loved technology, but I knew I was a very strong communicator as well. EcoCAR helped me combine the two perfectly.
I think one of the greatest aspects of AVTCs is that it allows for those in non-engineering fields to be exposed to energy efficiency. This is the future of our automotive industry, and the more people who understand it, the better.
During her time at the university, Amanda was the Marketing Coordinator for the UT-Knoxville Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition, Challenge X. Since then, Amanda has furthered her writing career as well as continued to follow her passion for helping the environment, which she discovered during her days as the Marketing Coordinator for the competition.
Andrea Parins began her journey with EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge in an unexpected way – working as a student writer for the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering External Relations.
For the Penn State University Advanced Vehicle Team (PSU AVT), the night before the first vehicle pre-inspection in EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge was a challenge for co-team leader Andrew Eldridge.
Andrew Karpin was an electrical subteam member of the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team of Virginia Tech (HEVT) during Year 3 of EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge.
Who can answer any question about the Ohio State University EcoCAR 2 Team’s vehicle engine? Andy Garcia can! Advanced Technology Vehicle Competition (AVTC) alumnus Andy Garcia was part of The Ohio State University team during the first two years of the EcoCAR 2 competition. Andy was the Engine Team Leader and worked on the development and calibration of the software used on the engine.
Anna Sinicki first heard about EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge while on an internship at Microsoft. “The business/outreach stream of EcoCAR was a fascinating challenge,” says Anna, who completed an undergraduate degree in science at the University of Waterloo before moving onto the MBA program at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Anthony Sardella didn’t always know about hybrid electric vehicles and green energy, but his involvement on the Penn State EcoCAR 2 team during his senior year opened his eyes to new opportunities that helped shape his career today.
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT) alumnus Ashley Effmeyer began her journey with Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) in 2006 to gain real-world experience in the automotive industry.
Former EcoCAR 2 alumnus Ashwin Sainathan gained valuable knowledge on electric vehicles and their components when he was involved in the EcoCAR 2 program at Wayne State University.
A native of Karlshamn, Sweden, Beatrice Enckell began her education at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the spring of 2009 on a track and field scholarship. While pursuing a degree in Business Administration Management she became involved in many student activities, including EcoCAR 2.
At times I believe that I got a lot more out of Challenge X than I did in most of my classes. You learn so many hands-on, real-world applications that it not just supplements book learning, but I think it’s an essential part of becoming a good engineer.
If you have ever been involved in AVTCs, you have Bob Larsen to thank. Bob Larsen is a true pioneer of advanced vehicles. Just look at his resume….
Starting as an undergraduate at The Pennsylvania State University, Brandon was looking to get involved with things that interested him. He was told as a freshman that the best way to end up in a career he loved was to get involved in an extracurricular activity in college….
Brian Harries and Townsend Hyatt
Many great engineers have started their careers in the Embry-Riddle EcoEagles Green Garage. Two of the finest, Brian Harries and Townsend Hyatt, set a high standard for their fellow EcoEagles engineers to uphold.
Over the years, many Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) graduates have gone on to do great things. The real-world experience gained from the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT) of Virginia Tech is always helpful in new careers—none more relevant than 2012-2013 HEVT electrical subteam leader, Brian Kelly.
When Bryan Jungers first showed interest in Challenge X at the University of California-Davis, he had never heard of hybrids before, but today he works as Manager of Research at E Source, focusing heavily on electric vehicles…
Charles Hua has been involved with Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) in two different ways: as a student and as a General Motors mentor.
It’s really nice to see all the hard work between governments, academia and industry come to fruition through competitions such as Challenge X and EcoCAR. It’s exciting to know that the future of advanced vehicle technology in North America is in such capable hands.
Despite his impressive track record, Chris Carde, Automotive Technical Program Manager at Google Germany, attributes his successful career to his experience in FutureTruck, an AVTC that ran from 2000-2004…
Christopher Haliburton, a 2008 graduate of the University of Waterloo, AVTC participant (and now supporter) and current GM validation engineer for the Chevy Volt….
Leading up to the completion of his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo, Chris Mendes saw a poster advertising the search for graduate student interested in working on the design of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.
When he started working on the Purdue EcoCAR 2 team, Chris Mottaz was interested in it purely as a recreational club where I could discuss advancements in the automotive industry. But after his involvement, he developed management skills, technical skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills and confidence.
Mechanical Engineer Chris Romo joined the EcoCAR 2 team as part of his undergraduate graduation requirement, and felt that it was a project where he would gain “real world” engineering experience that he could take with him throughout the rest of his career.
I think the AVTCs are the most amazing competition that is available to students. I feel honored to have been a part of them, as well as inspired by the fact that they are still relevant and on the leading edge of development.
Corey Robinson, Virginia Tech’s most recent graduate, is now working at General Motors as a global lead design release engineer in the chassis electronics and controls group. Corey participated in both the EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge and the EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future competitions.
As a child and teenager Courtney Lindwurm spent many weekends and summers helping her dad fix cars in his mechanics shop. She loved working with her hands, getting dirty, taking things apart, sometimes putting them back together, learning how to build engines, talking mechanics lingo, being the inquisitive child….
Before becoming an engineering student at Ohio State University (OSU), Craig Pavlich had experience working on cars and motorcycles. After joining OSU’s Challenge X team in 2006, he shifted his focus from mechanical engineering to electronics and computer.
As an engineering student, I wanted to be involved in the AVTCs because I’ve always enjoyed a lot of hands on work and it seemed like a great way to learn new things while getting to wrench on a vehicle.
Dan Ellis has a multidiscipline in Engineering and Technology, and was a vital part of the Penn State Advanced Vehicle Team (AVT) operation in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
To some, Tennessee football is more than just a game; it is a lifestyle. Current Chevrolet Seat Performance Engineering Specialist Daniel Cohen combines his passion for UT Football and engineering to make the nine-hour drive from Detroit to Knoxville for football time in Tennessee.
Dan Mehr discovered advanced vehicle technology competitions (AVTCs) when he noticed a disassembled hybrid-electric vehicle in the garage at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His immediate reaction? “It looked like a lot of fun to play with.”
David Killy, also known as DK, recently completed a long run with University of Victoria (UVic) EcoCAR 2. When he graduated this past May from University of Victoria, DK already had a job lined up: controls strategist at General Motors of Canada.
Former Cal State-Los Angeles team member David Schmitt shares his life changing experience with EcoCAR 2 and how this part of his college career prepared him to work for the big league name company he always dreamed of: General Motors (GM).
David Smith & Scott Curran
From University of Tennessee, Knoxville students to faculty advisors, David Smith and Scott Curran come full circle in the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) program.
Devin Cass began his studies in electrical engineering at the University of Waterloo. While walking around campus he saw recruitment posters for the school’s Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT).
After leading the communications team as the Year One Outreach Coordinator for Purdue’s EcoCAR 2 team, Dylan Schmitter graduated with his Master of Science in Industrial Technology with a focus on environmentally responsible manufacturing.
EcoCAR Alumni Now Organizers
Former Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) participants always go on to do great things. We are happy to welcome two former graduates of the EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge program onto the EcoCAR 2 organizing team – Beth Bezaire and Mike Kearney.
EcoCAR was the stepping stone. It helped bridge my classroom knowledge with the real world. It was great to work with such a talented and motivated group of students, professors and industry professionals.
Frank Falcone initially began his career as an assembler at a manufacturing firm, but after realizing he wanted to learn more about engineering and science, Frank decided to go back to school and enrolled at San Diego State University (SDSU) to study mechanical engineering.
Being involved gives you some real world experience. It gives you the ability to not only do the engineering work, but the opportunity to do project management – scheduling, budgeting and financing. Those are skills that every engineer has to have to make their project successful.
Getting involved in student competitions and professional societies teaches you many things that you don’t get from the curriculum, and I highly recommend it.
Henning Lohse-Busch has been a self-proclaimed “car guy” all his life. When he moved to the US from France to go to college at Virginia Tech, he found Virginia Tech’s FutureTruck team and immediately felt right at home….
AVTCs gave me the opportunity to participate in a world of automotive engineering that I otherwise wouldn’t have had. To any student that is going through undergrad and thought, ‘Hey, is this all engineering is?’ They should look for something extracurricular like this where they can have ownership for a project.
As a student at Virginia Tech (VT), Irene Berry recalls feeling right at home when she was first introduced to the school’s Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT) lab.
Jeff Rinker might not have been a direct member of an Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) team, but he did play a big role in support of the FutureTruck and Challenge X competitions.
Providing a practical application platform for automotive technology has allowed Wayne State students the experience to be of value in the real world. A prime example is Wayne State’s graduate student Jeffery Dean Rednour, an Ypsilanti resident who served as an EcoCAR 2 Outreach Coordinator.
There are some students who probably come in today and get really geeked up about hybrid cars, but to be involved in an initiative that was green before green was cool, that really changed my perspective
One of the students behind the University of Victoria’s participation in advanced vehicle technology competitions (AVTCs) is Jeremy Wise. In 2008, Wise and UVic professor Dr. Dong decided that they would apply to EcoCAR:The NeXt Challenge. Building a team would create an opportunity for UVic engineering students to get some invaluable training.
When Jim Kane entered his first job at Chrysler after participating in the all four years of the FutureCar competition, he felt more than prepared. His positions on the University of Michigan’s FutureCar team – controls engineer and technical manager – taught him skills he couldn’t learn in any classroom.
It was two weeks before an EcoCAR 2 progress report was due and the Colorado State Vehicle Innovation Team (CSU VIT) had to change their battery cooling method from air cooling to liquid cooling. Additionally, a full analysis was required in this report. It was up to team member Jon Miksch to step up to the challenge and help out his team.
The moment Jonathan Butcher attended an outreach event at the University of Wisconsin as a high school senior, he knew he wanted to become involved in Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs)….
Joon Hwang was a member of the University of Victoria’s EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge team during Year Three. Since his involvement in the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC), he has maintained a close connection to the program, especially with General Motors.
Real-world engineering is much more difficult and fun than classes; classroom education is incomplete without hands-on experience. In homework, there’s one obvious right answer. In a complex project like EcoCAR, there can be many solutions to a problem, and the process of choosing between them is what separates the good from the great.
Joshua Goldman, a University of Maryland (UMD) alumnus, began his journey with Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) in 1997 on UMD’s FutureCar Challenge team as a controls engineer. He transitioned into the team leader role the following year, and went on to become an advisor for UMD’s FutureTruck’s 1st Place team in 2000.
Not so long ago, Justin Kern was helping West Virginia University rebuild their FutureCar during the FutureCar Challenge. Since then, Justin has gone on to become an organizer and now sponsor of AVTCs….
Former CSULA EcoCAR 2 Co-Outreach Coordinator Kara Stanford-Jones to talk about her experience in the EcoCAR 2 competition as well as working with CSULA’s Outreach team.
It [FutureTruck] taught me about team dynamics, dedication and determination, and how to tackle a large project in incremental steps.
Kerry Grand’s experience with Advanced Vehicles Technology Competitions (AVTCs) began while he was pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering at Lawrence Technological University (LTU). Kerry knew he wanted to become involved with the program when he learned about the Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) Challenge. Kerry had begun working on the program by the time he began his senior project.
Former Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) student, Kevin Storch, has come a long way since his time as a FutureCar student at the University of Michigan (U of M).
University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) alumnus Kevin Stutenberg began his journey with the AVTCs in 2005 as a member of UW-Madison’s Challenge X team while he was working on his mechanical engineering degree.
Every Challenge X alumnus has a story or two about moments during the competition. But few can tell a story as heart-racing as Kristina Lawyer.
The North Carolina State University (NCSU) EcoCAR 2 Team had very few members when Kyle Lunsford first joined. Kyle stood out early on the small team due to his double major in both mechanical and electrical engineering
When FutureTruck alumnus Larry Slone entered the working world, he felt right at home with his new employer. As the FutureTruck Mechanical Engineering Team Leader in 2003 and Team Leader in 2004 for The Ohio State University, Slone found himself tasked with a somewhat familiar project as he began a job at Caterpillar, Inc.
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT’ 05) alumnus Laura Nash was a senior contributing member of the 2005 Challenge X team. Laura served as the battery research team leader as the team worked to select a split train hybrid electric vehicle architecture for the first year of the competition.
Love Lor, a Wayne State University and EcoCAR 2 alumna, currently works on hardware-in-the-loop plant controls and integration for General Motors (GM). At GM she enjoys working with tools both new and familiar to achieve short and long term goals. Her experience with EcoCAR 2 allowed her to develop an automotive technical background that employers look for when hiring recent engineering graduates.
Mary Timby knew virtually nothing about vehicle architecture and mechanics when she signed on as Colorado State University’s Outreach Coordinator in the fall of 2011 for EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future.
Getting your hands dirty and building something that works is the sort of experience that all engineers should have during their school years.
Since he was a young boy, Matt Kirklin had an interest in the way things worked. His friends and family members provided him with an endless supply of broken things to take apart and fix. His interest in the way things work eventually led him to his work with the Michigan Tech FutureCar Challenge team.
Teamwork, leadership, and communication are but a few of the very important skills that I developed during my years participating in advanced vehicle technology competitions (AVTC).
Matt Simonini, a former Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) student, recalls that his experiences on the University of Wisconsin’s Challenge X and FutureTruck teams were beneficial for his current career path.
AVTCs completely changed my life – I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today without the program and I’m incredibly grateful.
Mel Corrigan (previously Mel Fox) is a Penn State and AVTC alum who has spent her impressive academic career focused on Fuel Science research which ultimately led to her current position working on one of the most exciting innovations in vehicle technology….
Deciding to continue my education and go to graduate school at NC State was an easy decision. When I decided to get my Masters in communication, I had no idea just how far it would take me.
I love cars, and I wanted to work in the automotive industry. I knew the AVTC program could help get me there and that’s why I got involved. I loved the entire experience (except maybe a few of the all-nighters!) and what I do now at AVL is very similar to everything that I did in Challenge X and EcoCAR. I love what I do and wouldn’t change anything.
Fresh out of high school, Michael Barton immediately joined the Army National Guard. After finishing basic training, he began studies at the University of Akron in Ohio.
I don’t think I can overstate how valuable my AVTC experience has been. I found a passion for a field of engineering that had previously been unknown to me. I’ve been able to combine my mechanical engineering training with my interest in computer software and apply them in interesting and hugely rewarding applications.
Mike Arnett spent countless sleepless nights working with his team during Challenge X, but it was all worth it….
AVTCs are extremely important and beneficial to students looking to become leaders in the automotive industry. When they get recruited out into the real world, they can hit the ground running and usually those are the leaders we see a decade later running the show.
Mike Ogburn first became involved in energy efficiency research and implementation during the early days of Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC) with FutureCar in 1998…
It was a real world experience. I was able to have a much broader experience that allowed me to have a jump on the rest straight out of school.
EcoCAR 2 taught me the vehicle development process (VDP) on how industries bring a car from the drawing boards to reality. It showed me the value of countless hours of design and simulation that allow developers to optimize the vehicle’s performance in desired areas.
It has been 11 years since Neel Vasavada participated in Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) but it feels like just yesterday he was the business and HEV team leader for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Futurecar and FutureTruck teams.
The EcoCAR competition creates incredible opportunity for learning, and finding employment. So work hard, take on as much responsibility as you can, perform well and earn the trust of your teammates. You’ll be glad you did.
The best part of the competition is seeing the moment when all the hard work from gutting the vehicle and doing all the design work comes to fruition – when you turn the key and the engine or electric motor comes on and is actually able to move under its own power.
The EcoCAR 2 competition proved to provide innovative designs for energy efficiency in vehicles, leading to a more sustainable planet. Its benefits are widespread and important. But beyond its contribution to sustainability in technology, the competition showed that it provided a sustainable lifestyle to those who participate
University of Michigan (U of M) alumnus Prasad Venkiteswaran began his involvement with Advance Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) when he was looking to pursue a thesis topic. One of his professors was the team faculty advisor and pointed him in the direction of the team.
EcoCAR provided so many opportunities to build a strong professional foundation, and I’ve absolutely stressed that background in every job I’ve held.
Michigan Technological University (MTU) alumnus, Rich Nesbitt, has been a devoted Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) participant since the FutureTruck competitions. His first AVTC role was as a design lead during the Chevrolet Suburban FutureTruck competition.
EcoCAR helped me because it provided real world experience where I had a chance to create practical, safe and effective designs and really get the whole picture of what goes into a plug-in hybrid vehicle.
Ryan Andrade has an impressive education resume – valedictorian of his high school, graduating from the University of California Davis (UC Davis) with the highest award achievable in the College of Engineering, and completing his Master of Science at Stanford University. But just as impressive are his achievements in Challenge X.
Sam Panini grew exponentially through his experience as a member of the University of Tennessee FutureTruck team. Panini graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a concentration in power electronics.
Sean Carter began in Year Two as a controls team member in 2009 during EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge. The controls team made significant contributions to the success of the vehicle and the dedication Carter demonstrated during his time led him to be named team leader of during Year Three.
This “Where Are They Now” post features Shawn Midlam-Mohler, an AVTC alum who has contributed as a team member, team leader, and now faculty advisor for AVTC series spanning more than 15 years….
Stephen Gurski is currently a safety engineer in the Powertrain Division at General Motors (GM). At GM, Stephen is working on the launch of the Chevrolet Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle and is a technical organizer for the EcoCAR 2 program….
I learned a number of skills that I have used in my positions since graduation that I never would have encountered in the classroom. Time management was one of the most valuable things I learned on the EcoCAR team.
Steven Boyd first visited Virginia Tech as a junior in high school and had the opportunity to watch a group of engineers test an experimental hybrid electric vehicle. That day sparked his love for engineering and changed his life forever…
One day when he was a young child, Todd Cimermancic was riding his bike with his brother and suggested taking off the training wheels to prove to their mother that they could ride without them…
I think it’s a really great way for students to be able to launch their careers in engineering and technology and in management.
EcoCAR is a major project, especially since it is a completely student run project. One of the best things that Tom Goddette took away from EcoCAR was the need for planning and preparing before doing anything.
Tom Smyth and John Firment
“Roadkill” (Tom Smyth) and “General John” (John Firment) are a legendary volunteering twosome in the world of Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC). Respected and loved by all, the duo has been working together since 1991.
Being a part of the AVTCs helped leverage hands-on experience and problem solving skills needed to show potential employers during job interviews.
Tyler Garrard, chief engineer at EcoMotors International (EMI), accredits much of his success to the professional experience gained through Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs). Tyler’s engagement with the program started in 1996 at University of California, Davis (UCD).
Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) alumnus Tyler Joswick is staying connected to the field of alternative fuels and advanced vehicles. As a 2012 graduate of the Ohio State University, Joswick has found himself in two positions that he was able to secure because of his experiences as co-communications manager of Ohio State’s EcoCAR team.
On any given day, Vince Sabatini tests the safety of a car’s controllers with a hardware in-the-loop (HIL) simulator, wires flooding in and out of the complex contraption. But the beginnings of his engineering career started with a far simpler tool: a pen….
The EcoCAR program helped me tremendously by increasing my knowledge about the current state of hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) technology and giving me a better understanding of all of the background tasks required to design an HEV.
Zack Pieri was always fascinated with cars and some of his earliest childhood memories consist of playing with Tonka trucks in the backyard. Even before he was old enough to drive, Pieri talked his dad into letting him rebuild the engine in his Jeep. Although it took slightly longer than expected, he finished the rebuild the summer before he left for Rose-Hulman.
Zhenhua (Zhen) Zhu first became involved in Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) as a graduate student at West Virginia University. He was recruited to participate in EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge as a control team leader while pursuing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.