Illinois Tech Faculty Leads Innovation

Illinois Institute of Technology is joining the EcoCAR EV Challenge as a new participating university. The Illinois Tech EcoCAR team is led by three outstanding faculty members: Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Mahesh Krishnamurthy, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Carrie Hall, and Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Matthew Spenko. This article will highlight two Illinois Tech EcoCAR Team faculty members: Mahesh Krishnamurthy and Matthew Spenko. 

Mahesh Krishnamurthy received his Bachelor’s in Power and Industrial Electronics at Amravati University, a Master’s in Electrical Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas in Arlington. After his education, Krishnamurthy began teaching at Illinois Tech. He pursued teaching to push the envelope on what’s possible, work on multiple projects, and make an impact on students’ lives. During his time at Illinois Tech, Krishnamurthy has accomplished many things, including working with student competition teams such as Formula SAE and the NASA Robotics Mining Competition. He enjoys leading student groups because these teams take on real-life problems and gives students an opportunity to develop leadership, teamwork and communication skills that go beyond the classroom. Another highlight that Krishnamurthy notes is serving as Academic Director of Kaplan Institute at Illinois Tech, which seeks to shape students into leaders through cross-disciplinary collaboration, innovation and community-based projects. Krishnamurthy enjoys working at Kaplan because it allows to develop programs that engage students from different disciplines to solve an unmet need. 

As faculty lead of the Illinois Tech EcoCAR team, Krishnamurthy plans on building upon his experience in working with student groups to create a successful Illinois Tech EcoCAR team. He believes Innovation and problem-solving should be fun. He is excited to work on a competition spread across four years because this creates opportunities for conceiving and testing bold, new ideas. He hopes to build a team culture built on respectful communication where students and faculty are not afraid to take initiative. Aside from working on the vehicle, Krishnamurthy is excited about making an impact on the STEM education in Chicagoland, specifically the City Colleges of Chicago and minority institutions.  He hopes that EcoCAR will become a pathway for young students to find like-minded innovators and problem solvers.

Matthew Spenko received his Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern and a Master’s and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. He pursued teaching because he enjoys staying on top of current topics, working with students who want to learn, and wants to help students grow as young engineers. During his time at Illinois Tech, Spenko can recall several key  highlights in his career including graduating his first Ph.D. student as well as winning  the Bauer IIT Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching award for developing a mechanical engineering design course for sophomores where students can learn CAD in the context of design work such as making sustainable chairs out of foam core and more!

As faculty CAV lead of the Illinois Tech EcoCAR team, Spenko aims to graduate students who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about autonomous vehicle control. Alongside that, he will ensure that after these students graduate, there will be a smooth transition between these leaders and the next leaders of EcoCAR. He hopes that having a successful EcoCAR program will warrant further investments in the university that will improve research in autonomous systems.

Both Krishnamurthy and Spenko are excited to work and co-lead the Illinois Tech EcoCAR team alongside Carrie Hall. They realize the impact and importance of the competition, and they are set on the university’s success. With a successful year in competition, the hope is to grow the Illinois Tech department of research along with the autonomous vehicle faculty at Illinois Tech.

Once again, Illinois Tech is honored to be a part of the EV EcoCAR Challenge. Being a new university to AVTCs is exciting with much to learn. With three outstanding faculty members to lead the next generation of engineers, everyone can expect great accomplishments from Illinois Tech in the next four years. 

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