Being a part of an EcoCAR 3 Team requires endless amounts of time and effort from both students and faculty members on the team. A staple of the UA EcoCAR 3 team is Dr. Paulius Puzinauskas, a Maryland native and Michigan football enthusiast. Dr. Paul, as students call him, is a professor in The University of Alabama’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and the lead faculty advisor for the UA EcoCAR 3 Team.
“Dr. Paul does a great job of opening the eyes of our team to ideas and possibilities that are outside of the immediate focus of the competition,” said Travis Foust of the UA EcoCAR 3 Team. “This allows our team to gain competitive advantages by broadening the scope of our project.”Another student stated, “He is a motivating and enthusiastic advisor! He enables team members to think independently and cultivates an environment of innovation. He inspires the team to go above and beyond on the technical and communications end. He assists with youth outreach events and has encouraged the team collaborate with other organizations to make a greater impact on the community. ..He is always encouraging our team to take the road less travelled, to strive for more than being average, and to compete at a high level. He has spent nights and weekends working with the team and he offers constructive criticism and positive reinforcement…he has truly made an impact on all of our lives.”
Puzinauskas is an associate professor with a background in mechanical engineering. His research has consisted of internal combustion engines, heat transfer and instrumentation research. He has been with UA EcoCAR 3 since the initial proposal phase of the competition and is assisting the team’s growth.
“Being involved in EcoCAR 3 allows me to see all of things the students are learning in the classroom,” Puzinauskas said. “I think this is the best example of experiential learning that’s academic on campus.”
Over the course of EcoCAR 3, the UA EcoCAR 3 Team has been challenged by Puzinauskas to cultivate a culture of innovation and performance excellence. Through mentorship and guidance, he has seen the students take on a larger roles and gain unprecedented confidence throughout the progression of the EcoCAR 3 competition.
“All the leaders have really matured in a very significant way. Last year at this time I was spending a lot of time leading meetings and the team while also putting more pressure on the students to charge,” Puzinauskas said. “Now the leaders know what to do, and they put more pressure on themselves. In the future, I hope we can figure out how to get more and more people involved that want to be involved and more efficiently utilize those students.”
Congratulations to Dr. Paul Puzinauskas for winning the 2016 National Science Foundation Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award at the Year Two Awards Ceremony.