April ’24 ASPIRE Student Section

Some students in ASPIRE's Student Leadership Council pose for a photo during their Seattle, Washington, cohort trip in March 2024.
Several of ASPIRE’s Student Leadership Council students pose for a photo during their Seattle, Washington cohort trip in March 2024.

Hello ASPIRE Students!

Welcome to our ASPIRE student newsletter. In this section we will highlight students and their research, discuss events and student news, and provide a place for students to have a voice for the center.

General Announcements

Applications for the Student Leadership Council are opening soon! This is a wonderful opportunity to get more involved with ASPIRE. Watch for an email from Melanie Conrad with details on how and when you can apply, or reach out if you have questions!

We’re seeking nominations for an ASPIRE student who will participate in the National Science Foundation’s Perfect Pitch competition at the NSF Engineering Research Center Biennial Meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, on Sept 8, 2024, followed by an awards ceremony to celebrate our winners (Sept. 9, 2024).

Each active ERC can nominate one contestant to represent their center. If you’re keen on participating in this competition, simply inform your advisor of your interest and email Melanie Conrad (include your name, preferred email, and your advisor’s name and email address). We’ll need to finalize our participants by May 3.

Student Event Highlights


On April 17, USU’s ASPIRE Student Association (ASA) hosted an ASPIRE Tech showcase on the USU Engineering Quad. There were multiple electric vehicles displayed including a tesla and two Rivian vehicles. There were also information tables to discuss electric vehicle wireless charging technology and opportunities to learn about and get involved with ASPIRE. As an added bonus, there was free pizza and ASPIRE research/internship information for students who stopped by!


From March 25– 27, the ASPIRE Student Leadership Council (SLC) went on a trip hosted by Kenworth (PACCAR). We visited sites like the Kenworth R&D Facility, Kenworth Manufacturing Facility, PACCAR testing and integration facility, Washington State Ferries, Amazon, Northwest Energy Coalition, Lewis County Transit, First Mode, and the Center of Excellence for Clean Energy. This was a wonderful opportunity to learn about vehicle electrification, clean energy, and hydrogen fuel cell technology!


On April 12, the USU ASPIRE Student Association went on a trip to Idaho National Laboratory hosted by Benny Varghese. Visits included the INL Battery Testing facility, microgrid test lab, and electric vehicle test lab. This was a wonderful opportunity to see what it is like to work in a National Lab.

TechTalk: Student Talent Showcase

Most recently we had our quarterly Student Talent Showcase. This showcase featured three students from across the country:

Bruno César Krause Morás from Purdue University. Bruno represented our Student Leadership Council and shared insights from our recent four-day cohort to the Seattle, Washington, area. Discover how this journey fostered valuable industry connections, sparked innovative ideas, and strengthened leadership skills. This presentation will highlight key learnings and experiences and offer a unique opportunity for industry members to engage with future engineering talents.

Abdullah Zubair from Virginia Tech. Abdullah spoke to the lack of secure identification of vehicles posing multiple threats to a rapidly growing intelligent transport infrastructure. One notable threat is the impersonation of an authorized vehicle to deceive the automated vehicle access control (VAC) system, designed to prevent unauthorized vehicles from entering restricted areas or accessing special privileges. Another potential attack involves battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), wherein an adversary that has compromised the BEV’s software system deceives a charging station (plug-in or wireless) into overcharging the vehicle to produce catastrophic failure of the battery pack, including combustion or explosion. To address these threats, we propose to identify vehicles, and hence their privileges and/or charging capabilities, using device fingerprinting.

Pedram Balooch Sirgani from University of Texas at El Paso. Pedram, a PhD student studying civil engineering, presented on his research on reducing the temperature sensitivity of pavements for safe and durable electrified roadways. For example, he presented on the development of a load model incorporating the effects of embedded charging units to advance pavement design for electrified roadways. His current project involves analyzing temperature distribution and viscoelastic behavior in asphalt pavement design to improve processes of electrified roadways moving forward.

You can view our most recent TechTalks on the ASPIRE website:

Jobs & Internships

ASPIRE has over 60 Industry and Innovation partners, many of which are interested in the student talent at ASPIRE and are looking to hire ASPIRE students for jobs and internships. Currently, we have one full-time position opening with ASPIRE at USU, but continue to check here for updates:

Please fill out this 5-minute survey to help us better understand the ASPIRE student perspective on internships:


Student Leadership Council Highlights

This last quarter we welcomed Tenzin Lhaden to the SLC!

Tenzin Lhaden poses for a portrait on a bench in a park.

Tenzin Lhaden

Master’s in Industrial Engineering at University of Texas at El Paso

Current Project: She’s working on smart charging management algorithm development.

Fun Facts: A Bhutanese native, Tenzin has a knack for hiking and travel and has embraced line dancing since arriving in the USA.

We are grateful for all of our ASPIRE students and the contributions you make to the ASPIRE center. If you’d like to join the SLC, apply! And reach out to your campus advisor if you’d like join your area’s ASPIRE Student Association for other involvement opportunities!