Meet the GT Team Leads

The Georgia Tech EcoCAR Mobility Challenge Team is made up of nearly 40 engineers, primarily from mechanical, electrical, and computer science backgrounds.

The Georgia Teach team is primarily student-led, and we plan to contribute heavily to the next generation of automotive engineers. With a wealth of knowledge from our advisors, supporters, and experience from the previous EcoCAR 3 competition, our team aims to develop a strong culture of efficiency and competency in developing our students and our team’s automotive technologies. Meet the GT Team Leads below:

Brianna Thornton is from Birmingham, Ala. and is pursuing her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering. Her dream job is becoming a project manager within the renewable energy field. Her role as GT EcoCAR’s Project Manager allows her to gain insight into her future industry.

Thornton’s favorite part about EcoCAR is it gives students real-world, hands-on experience. Thornton said, “I’ve never been a part of a student organization that’s so tailored to operate in such a real, industry type of setting, so it’s fascinating to me.”

Outside of EcoCAR, Thornton enjoys baking during the weekends and watching horror movies. Her favorite cake to bake is a lemon pound cake.

An unexpected fact about Thornton is, she previously ran a small business decorating graduation caps. She still gets requests from students asking for her services.

Christian Free is from Birmingham, Ala. He is currently working to obtain his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering. His role as the Propulsion Systems Integration Lead on GT’s EcoCAR Team is similar to his plans for the future. Free’s dream job involves solving a variety of automotive engineering problems using analysis. He enjoys re-engineering designs to improve their performance.

He likes how the EcoCAR competition has a positive impact on the world. According to Free, “I like that the challenge gives us a chance to design parts that are going on an actual car.”

Outside of EcoCAR, Free likes to autocross his own car. Autocross is a race against the clock in small, technical, parking lot courses, much like we have done at previous AVTC competitions.

An unexpected fact about Free is he’s been a ballet dancer most of his life. During his first two years at Georgia Tech University, he was a member of DanceTech.

Noah Schaich is from Milton, Ga. And working to achieve his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering.

He enjoys his role as GT EcoCAR’s Engineering Manager. “I like that we are tasked with designing the hybrid system of the vehicle, which is not something that most people get to do working in the industry,” Schaich said. “The project allows us to both work on the car and do more detailed design and analysis work.”

Outside of EcoCAR, Schaich loves riding bikes. He enjoys Georgia Tech’s campus because it nestled within Atlanta, so he can ride anywhere on campus or take part in what the rest of the city has to offer.

Even though Schaich is a mechanical engineer, an unexpected fact is he is a hobbyist woodworker.

Derin Ozturk is from Huntington Beach, Calif. and is working towards his Master’s in Electrical and Computer Engineering. His dream job is doing research and development in disruptive industry technology.

As GT’s EcoCAR Connected and Automated Vehicles Lead, Ozturk enjoys “getting to dive deep into technical work and research in a specific technical area, CAVs in this case, as well as help design a fully functioning vehicle.”

Outside of EcoCAR, Ozturk is an accomplished powerlifter on the Georgia Tech Powerlifting Team. He competed at the 2019 Collegiate Nationals in Columbus, Ohio. He also enjoys listening, finding, and watching live music.

Jason Calvert is from Johns Creek, Ga. and is pursuing a Masters in Electrical Engineering. In the future, he would like to do research and development of the next generation of technology. Outside of his time in EcoCAR, he enjoys learning about discoveries in physics.

Calvert enjoys his role as GT’s EcoCAR Connected and Automated Vehicles & Propulsion Controls and Modeling Lead because “It provides practical experience to complement a mostly theoretical curriculum.”

An unexpected fact about Calvert is that he was a former fencer.

Nishan Nekoo is from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He is currently majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science. In Nekoo’s role as the Propulsion Controls and Modeling Lead on GT’s EcoCAR Team, he can intersect his studies in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science. Working on the EcoCAR Team gives Nekoo a preview into his dream job, working in a management role in the autonomous vehicle industry.

Nekoo enjoys working on the EcoCAR Team, “I like that we work very closely with the industry and get experience working with industry-level tools and performing work that gets close to the industry standards.” Nekoo continues, “I like that we do challenging work but receive a healthy amount of guidance.”

Outside of his role at EcoCAR, Nekoo loves being outdoors. He is the Treasurer for the Ultimate Frisbee club. He plays ultimate intramural frisbee as well as various sports around campus like volleyball, soccer, squash, and running! Nekoo also spends time with my residents in my position as a Peer Leader.

An interesting fact about Nekoo that other people on the team don’t know is, he went high school in Singapore, and played competitive squash for 12 years, peaking at number seven in the Asian Under-15 rankings.

Nekoo’s favorite part about Georgia Tech University is the campus, and its try anything culture. “I love that we have a beautiful self-contained campus and that there really is an opportunity to do or learn whatever you want at Tech.”