EcoCAR Excellence in Leadership Award Recipients

The EcoCAR Excellence in Leadership Award recognizes the skills that are critical for engineers, project managers and communicators to be successful within the EcoCAR project and throughout their careers. The award also recognizes those who model leadership capabilities on their EcoCAR teams, such as motivating team members to do their best, taking time to teach and mentor fellow students, and creating a supportive team culture. Effective leaders are able to exercise power appropriately, think critically and creatively, articulate a positive sense of direction and evoke optimism in their peers.  These skills can be the major differentiator between the success or failure of a team to achieve each teams’ individual goals.

This year’s Excellence in Leadership Award was presented to two winners, Nishan Nekoo of Georgia Tech and Vance Hudson of Mississippi State University.

Nishan began his first leadership role on the Georgia Tech team as an undergraduate leading the PCM team in Year 2 of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge and became Engineering Manager by Year 3.

According to Georgia Tech faculty and students, during the pandemic, Nishan made an effort to create team bonding events in a safe manner, which significantly helped bring back a sense of team and normalcy that otherwise was nonexistent. Most importantly, the team believes Nishan turned the EcoCAR team into more than just a technical project. He created a family.

The team believes that Nishan strives to leave Georgia Tech’s EcoCAR team better than he found it. He is always thinking about how to further develop the team in the future and help the team members achieve their goals.

One of the Georgia Tech team members said, “Nishan is not good at anything. Nishan is not good at completing anything on time, not good at organizing groups of people to get the best out of them, and definitely not good at showing love to everyone on the team. Nishan is the best at all of these things.”

The Mississippi State University faculty and students put forth a strong nomination for Vance and his leadership role on the team.

Vance Hudson is a graduate student on the Mississippi State University (MSU) EcoCAR Team. He has been a critical part of the program, especially in this final year of the Mobility Challenge. Vance is originally from Collierville, Tennessee. He began at Mississippi State University in August of 2016 and has been a part of AVTC’s EcoCAR Challenges since then. He originally started in the Propulsions System Integration (PSI) sub team of the EcoCAR 3 project. After assisting with writing the proposal for the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, Vance took on the role of Engineering Manager and has been in this role for the entirety of the Mobility Challenge.

According to the Mississippi State team, Vance contains all the characteristics one imagines in a true leader. He is committed to every aspect of the EcoCAR project and ensures that it is all done to the best of its ability. This means Vance sets aside a lot of personal time to focus on helping team members achieve the best out of each task. Vance also keeps the team moving forward under any circumstance by keeping calm and composed in the face of seemingly impossible tasks and adversity.

One of Vance’s team members added, “Vance has been a part of the MSU EcoCAR Team for six years, and his passion for this team shines through in almost every conversation with him. He has been one of the major catalysts of the team’s recent success and he is constantly pushing for team members to achieve their team, academic, and personal goals.” They added, “I witness Vance every day set aside his own work to help answer questions. He is quick to mentor younger members, give advice regarding classes, and review resumes to help members land internships and full time offers.”

For their excellent leadership efforts, both students will receive the Excellence in Leadership Award, along with a trophy and check each for $1,250.


Congratulations to all of the nominees for the Excellence in Leadership Award:


From Mississippi State University: VANCE HUDSON

From the Ohio State University: COLIN KNIGHT

From the University of Alabama: JORDAN OLSON and JOHN FERRELL

From the University of Waterloo: HAOCHENG ZHANG

And from West Virginia University: JARED DIETHORN