Main Mechanical Engineering Team

Meet the 2018 University of New Mexico Mechanical Engineering Solar Splash team! The team is comprised of eight senior level undergrad students. With the guidance of graduate level legacy mentor, Daniel Taylor, and under the leadership and advisement of UNM Professor, Peter Vorobieff, the team is chasing a first place trophy in June. Meet our team below!




Daniel Taylor
UNM SOLAR SPLASH Graduate Legacy Mentor
ASME and Pi Tau Sigma member

Daniel already has a deep passion for the water, spending much of his childhood on a sailboat in Puget Sound. As the Graduate Legacy Mentor he has been helping to get everyone moving together in the right direction and staying on task and organized in the many roles each person plays. Keeping the team small allows each member to be directly involved and stay passionate about the project, something that is important to the team. Daniel led the initial development of last year’s team, including selecting the members and the design of the hull.
Daniel is currently interning at Sandia National Laboratories. He is now graduated and is continuing his internship while pursuing his master’s degree at UNM.

Erich Brown

I originally grew up in Sacramento, CA and ended up in New Mexico when I enlisted  in the Air Force. After being stationed in Clovis, NM for 5 years I decided to go back to school for Mechanical Engineering. Now that I'm close to graduating, my goals are to finish graduate school and get a job working on awesome projects. Goals for this project are to learn how to work with a team that is mixed with different disciplines to build a winning vessel. Some of my hobbies are to spend time with my family, camping, fishing, snowboarding, four wheeling, and building/fixing things around the house.

Luis Hernandez

I am from a small town called Deming New Mexico. On the outskirts of Deming towards Hatch, New Mexico, lies a wind farm. Every time we drove by them, I aspired to understand how they produced energy for us to use. The more I learned through grade school, the more I realized that Engineering was for me. Renewable energy along side of material testing has been one of my main points of interest as a Mechanical Engineer. The Solar Splash design course incorporates the use of solar panels to drive a boat. I expect to learn from my peers in the Solar Splash team as well as improve my ability to work with renewable energy.

Ally Jackman

Ally works as an Energy Engineering Intern at Vibrantcy and is particularly interested in
sustainable energy and Biomimicry. She looks forward to getting hands on experience with solar applications and working in a dynamic team. She spent time studying in California and returned to New Mexico to have her son. She now lives in Santa Fe and plans to join the workforce after graduation and eventually attain her master's degree in Biomimicry in the years to come. 

Elisabeth Keller
UNM Solar Splash

My name is Elisabeth Keller. I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I like math, latch hook (craft thing), reading, and I like to bake sweet things. I know how to speak German. I love staying busy. I have learned Matlab, C#, some Creo/Solidworks and am working on learning Python. I would like our team not only to place in competition but also to have learned from this project lessons that will apply to the rest of our lives. Solar energy will be used more often in the future and this is a great opportunity to learn about it. This will be a great way to finish my pursuit of my bachelor's degree and get me started on my master's.

Kevin McConnell
UNM Solar Splash

Kevin McConnell is a senior student at the University of New Mexico pursuing his BS/MS in Mechanical Engineering through the department’s shared credit program. Though his studies have given him an opportunity to explore the theoretical world of many different engineering and science disciplines, he considers his hands-on experience operating nuclear reactors for the United States Navy as truly invaluable. When he isn’t occupied with school work or participating in research as an intern for Sandia National Laboratories, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and two children.

Christopher Murtagh
UNM Solar Splash

Christopher was born in New Jersey, but has spent most of his life in Nevada and New Mexico.  He has always enjoyed math and science and has found enjoyment in the challenging field of engineering.  Christopher sees Solar Splash to be an opportunity to gain insight on the positives as well as the pressing issues with renewable energy.  He has experience with boats when he spent time as an intern at Wolf Engineering conducting sediment analysis on a motorized cataraft.  Christopher is currently an intern in the Power Sources Department at Sandia National Laboratories.  After graduation, he will be continuing his education to get his Master’s Degree in materials science and solid mechanics. 

Ramon Reyes
UNM Solar Splash

My name is Ramon ‘Ray’ Reyes and I was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM. I attended St. Pius X High School and am a senior at UNM pursuing an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. I began working at Sandia National Laboratories in May 2017 and am currently working there, still. I plan to attend graduate school at the University of New Mexico and I plan to study Materials Science. I hope to maintain my position as an intern at Sandia National Laboratories throughout graduate school and I may explore other options once I complete my Masters. I hope to learn more in computational engineering and pursue a career in that field. As for the team, I will be giving my best effort to ensure that my work is done efficiently and in a timely manner. I want that Gold Trophy in Ohio!

Keith Soules
UNM Solar Splash

My name is Keith Soules. I am a native New Mexican from Las Cruces. I originally studied Spanish and Portuguese at UNM receiving a bachelors degree in Spanish with a minor in Portuguese. Upon completing my Spanish degree I spent a few years working at various local businesses, which eventually led to a position working for a privately-owned engineering firm. This inspired me to return to UNM to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I am now completing the final semester of my bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and am proud to be a member of the UNM Solar Splash team for 2018. I look forward to working with the rest of the team exploring, new ideas, and building on the foundation laid out for us by previous teams. Following graduation, I intend to pursue a graduate degree focusing on renewable energy.  

Electrical Engineering Sub-Systems

Solar Panel System Design/Optimization

  • Cameron Pouncey - Cameron is a graduate student working with Professor Jane Lehr in the UNM ECE department. He is also the laboratory manager of the Applied Pulsed Energy, Discharge, and Ionization Center (APERIODIC) – the research group led by Prof. Lehr. His research interests include applied pulsed power technology, high voltage engineering, and electrical discharge physics. Before coming to UNM, Cameron worked as a defense contractor for 10 years on a wide range of electrical engineering programs. He provides technical advice to the Solar Splash team in the areas of power electronics, control system hardware, and hardware design and integration.
  • Luan Nguyen - Luan is a Masters student in the ECE department concentrating in Systems and Controls. He started working with multi rotors robots, sensor analyzing and site scanning and was working on the solar splash project on the side. Recently, he switched completely to work on this project. He has been working on developing and implementing the PID feedback controller. The controller is supposed to optimize the power efficiency  of the DC batteries for the best RPM.  After graduating in the Spring of 2017, he would like to work in the multi rotors (a.k.a drones) industry. He is also currently a member of IEEE and HKN.
  • Steven Maurice - Steve is a Masters student at UNM studying electrical engineering with an emphasis on Systems and Controls.  His research involves studying the application of artificial intelligent algorithms to robotics with the goal of intelligent assembly for manufacturing.  The role he has in the solar splash team is the Controls system team lead.  After graduation in the fall of 2017, he hopes to work in the Aerospace industry.


Maximum Power Point Tracker

As the interest raises for renewable energy sources, building an efficient PV system becomes trivial. In the process of production and integration of a PV system, losses occur. .We agreed that The maximum power point charge controller has a great impact on the efficiency of the system and was worth developing. An MPPT is an electronic DC to DC converter that optimizes the match between the solar panels and the battery bank. We convert a higher voltage from the solar panels down to the lower voltage needed to charge the batteries more efficiently. This product will be a great addition to the solar boat and will give the team an edge and make us rise against our competition.

  • Sayf Braj - Sayf is an undergraduate electrical engineering student, contracted project engineer at RRFB, and Data operator at IDI. He is the Project manager for the MPPT charge controller, and a member of the solar splash team. Sayf has always enjoyed working within a team and especially on renewable energy projects. He graduated from the university of sciences of Bizerte by the age of 21  with a degree in computer science and moved to the States when he was 24 to pursue a degree in electrical engineering at UNM. His favorite part of being on this team is that it allows him to gain hands-on experience and work with an interdisciplinary team of engineering students on a fun national competition.
  • Ursula Amezcua - Ursula is a senior undergraduate at UNM studying Electrical Engineering as well as a second major in Spanish. She is on the MPPT team acting as the technical writer and helping with hardware design. Shortly after graduation, she is getting married to her high school sweetheart and is currently searching for an engineering job in the Phoenix, Arizona area, where she hopes to build her career and settle down. This project will help her gain experience in the solar energy industry which will prove to be beneficial in her job search. She is excited to be a part of a collaborative team that gives a glimpse to a real world work environment and that is so optimistic about this project and wants to bring their best work forward. She is also the current president of the UNM chapter of Eta Kappa Nu.

Solar Tracker Design

More information coming soon!

Previous Year's Teams

2016 Team