Current Students

PhD Students:

James Holland

James is a Ph.D. student of Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Florida. His interest in both hardware and software is of no surprise to those who know James. His research interests are machine learning, cybersecurity, and testing and verification of connected and autonomous vehicles. He joined the RANCS research group as an undergraduate during his freshman year. For as long as he can remember, James has been an avid tinkerer, exploring the intricacies of technology whether it be an old motherboard or an antique car.

Parisa Ansari

Parisa is a Ph.D. student of Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Florida. She has received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Electrical engineering-Control. Her research interests are Control Systems, Fault Detection, Robust Control, and Security of connected and autonomous vehicles.

Parisa Ansari

Hamed Faghihian

Hamed is a Ph.D. student of Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Florida (USF). He has Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and he received a master’s degree in Automotive Engineering dynamics systems. His research interest is within mechanical engineering and automotive engineering, as well as optimization, dynamics, vibrations, and control. He believes vehicles are the platforms of every possible new technology and there is a lot to do to make them smarter, more sustainable, and more efficient.

Farahnaz Javidi Niroumand

Farahnaz is a Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Florida (USF). She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering. Her research interests are the Security of Multi-Agent Systems, Adaptive Control, Nonlinear Control, and Industrial Automation. She is also passionate about enhancing control systems design security and reliability using Machine Learning Tools.

Hayleyesus Alemayehu  

Hayleyesus is a Ph.D. student of Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Florida. He has a master’s degree in automotive engineering from Clemson University and has a master degree in Electro-mechanical and received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He is interested in system dynamics and control, task scheduling, motion planning and optimal control of multi-agents’ systems that integrates vehicles and robots, engineering optimization application in vehicles and robots, machine learning integrations with classical control.

Master Students:

Daniel Gula

Dan Gula is a graduate student who is studying mechanical engineering with a focus in autonomy. He recently graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He is a full-time engineer at McCormick Stevenson Corporation where he develops innovative concepts for the armament industry. His current interests focus on control systems and product integration. He hopes to enhance the abilities of the automotive industry while maintaining a safe environmental impact.

Undergraduate Students:

Sofia Morales Ferreira

Sofia Morales is an undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Student at the University of South Florida. Her current research interests include implementation of mechanical devices, nanotechnology, and control systems. Science and it’s applications have always fascinated her. She finds joy in understanding how physical processes create the fascinating natural phenomena around her, as well as the machines and devices that seemed to work by an act of magic when she was younger.

Matthew Okashita

Matthew Okashita in an undergraduate Computer Science student at the University of South Florida. His journey into academia started in his high school’s science fair team, where he placed third at the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair in the mathematics and computational sciences category. He is passionate in applying academic research to motorsports, working as a data engineer for his university’s Formula SAE team. His research interests are in autonomous vehicle systems, both on the street and on the racetrack.

Kaitlyn Woolf

Kaitlyn Woolf is a Senior undergraduate student of Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Florida (USF). Her primary research centers around driving simulations, where she leverages virtual reality and rehabilitation devices to enhance immersion. Kaitlyn aspires to pursue a PhD in mechanical engineering after she graduates in December of 2023. Her interest lies in incorporating biosensors into control systems, particularly using biofeedback sensors to introduce vehicle autonomy during unsafe driving situations.  

Kaitlyn Woolf

Keerthana Dabbara

Keerthana Dabbara is an undergraduate student majoring in Computer Science at the University of South Florida. With a strong academic standing, she has been recognized on the dean’s list multiple times. Keerthana excels in programming languages such as C, C++, JAVA, Python, and has proficiency in data analytics, data structures, and software design and testing. Her passion lies in understanding and implementing control systems for safety-critical cyber-physical systems. Driven by a vision of creating a secure and smarter world, her work holds the potential to positively impact countless lives.


John Montgomery

John Montgomery is a Senior undergraduate Mechanical Engineering student at the University of South Florida. John is currently serving his second year as President of USF’s Formula SAE team, Bulls Racing. Under John’s Presidency, Bulls Racing finished 20th overall and 2nd place in the Acceleration event at FSAE Michigan 2022 – both of which are the team’s best results ever. John also has experience performing FEA on their FSAE chassis and composites manufacturing. In his free time, John enjoys playing volleyball and being outdoors.

Current Position: 

Jonas Cunningham-Rush

Jonas Cunningham-Rush is a graduate student at Tennessee Technological University currently working towards completing his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering. He received his Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from Tennessee Technological University. He has always been fascinated by cars and in his free time, you can always find him working on his own. This fascination has grown as vehicle technology has expanded.

Current Position: Application Engineer at Schneider Electric -Rush

Taryn Nicole Jones

Taryn Nicole Jones was a graduate research assistant studying robotics at Florida Polytechnic University. She received her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Florida. Her interests include autonomous and connected vehicles, reconfigurable and soft robotics, renewable energy and biomimicry, and education reformation. The current projects on which she is working with Advanced Mobility Institute (AMI) include control systems as well as sensor attenuation. She enjoys being involved in her community by assisting in planning FL Polycon, local performances, and various activities at church.

Current Position: Software Engineer at JPMorgan Chase

Mauro Victorio

Mauro Victorio was a graduate student currently studying to complete his Master’s of Electrical Engineering at the Florida Polytechnic University. He received his bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica (ITA). He has 15-years of experience in product manufacturing and development working on a variety of projects such as Researches on Radar Warning Receiver based on Multi-Channel Bragg Cell, Infrared Thermal Cameras, semiconductor components in the DRAM manufacturing process, and Wrist band Heart Rate meter. He also has 10-years of experience in lecturing activities as a professor at engineering courses in Brazil.

Current Position: PhD student at Florida International University

Nathan Gardner​

Nathan Gardner is an undergraduate Computer Engineering student and is currently a Junior at Tennessee Technological University. Nathan came into this position from internship experience in the automotive engineering industry. Nathan enjoys tinkering with electronics or software and listening to music in his free time. Nathan’s focus at RANCS Lab is computer device interfacing and computer integration within the research vehicle. Nathan has been with RANCS research group since August 2021.

Current Position: Data Center Engineer at Meta

Miguel Fuentes Garcia

Miguel Fuentes is an undergraduate student of Mechanical Engineering at Tennessee Technical University. He is always working, from the documentation of manuals to the development of simulations using the knowledge acquired. He enjoys participating in outreach and social activities. His research interests are software development to real-life problems.

Current Position: Student at Tennessee Technological University

Gabrielle Tristani

Gabrielle was a research assistant aiming to get her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with concentrations in Autonomous Systems and Cybersecurity at the Florida Polytechnic University. She simultaneously graduated from high school and college summa cum laude with an Associate of Science degree in computer science in 2018. Before graduating, she plans to explore different fields and concentrations relating to computer science and electrical engineering to get the best education she can in the fields that interest her.

Current Position: Digital Marketing Specialist

Eric Chan

Eric Chan was an undergraduate studying Electrical Engineering with a specialization in Control Systems at Florida Polytechnic University. President of the Robotics Club at Florida Poly in 2018, he helped design and implement numerous robots for VEX, combat, and general applications. He has the intention to pursue a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, with research interests including renewable power systems, nonlinear control systems, and robotics.

Current Position: Associate Director at Universal Studio 

Luis Garcia 

Luis Garcia was an undergraduate student working to complete his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering at Florida Polytechnic University. His concentration is in Control Systems, spurred by his animation for automation and robotics. A tinkerer by nature, his drawers are full of salvaged flyback transformers and dirty IC chips. His interests include robotics, manufacturing technologies, computer networks, and audio systems.

Current Position: Product Design Engineer at SmartOS

Jackie Gauthier

Jackie Gauthier was a student at Florida Polytechnic University who is pursuing a degree in Computer Engineering with a concentration in Machine Intelligence. Previously, Jackie was a Software Engineering Aide at Radiance Technologies. At Radiance Technologies, she assisted in the development of new software for the Department of Defense. Her research interests include but are not limited to Deep Learning, Natural Language Processing, and Computer Vision. After Jackie graduated from Florida Polytechnic University in December of 2019, Jackie plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Machine Learning.

Current Position: Software Engineering Aide at Radiance Technologies