An Arrow aimed at tomorrow: Autonomous EV engineering in Canada

Andrew Genovese and Izzy Cossarin, Canada’s first automated Electric Vehicle

As part of our “An Arrow aimed at tomorrow” story series, this article, along with How to build your own electric car, and What do automotive engineers do follows the building and assembly of Canada’s first electric and autonomous vehicle.

A focus on the future of energy transition with Izzy Cossarin

When you think of innovation in farming communities, you might imagine the development of advanced glyphosate-tolerant trait technologies or some other complicated food harvesting breakthrough. Robotics isn’t exactly the first thing to come to mind when thinking of farming community initiatives. However, it was first of mind for Izzy Cossarin. Growing up amongst the rolling hills of Caledon, Ontario’s rural communities, Izzy’s scientific mind was seeded by a curiosity and passion for engineering and robotics.

While participating in her high school robotics team, Izzy was nudged by one of the engineering judges to consider attending Ontario Tech University for her undergraduate studies. The idea suited her just fine, as she says, “I didn't want a school where there are 60,000 people because I just felt like I would be drowned out by people…I couldn’t wrap my head around it”. However, she’s shown that she could dive into a difficult engineering program and wrap her head around the mind-bending complexities of engineering and robotics. It’s evidenced in her success in the Mechatronics Program.

An electric connection

It may at first seem like Mechatronics is disconnected from automobile manufacturing. But aren’t EVs large scale electronic devices at heart. So it makes sense for Izzy to decide that “hey, I really want to work at ACE (Climatic Wind Tunnel) and I really want to be able to experience all the opportunities there…and so that's kind of how I ended up in the auto projects and the auto world”. When Project Arrow was only in the spark of imagination stage, her professor suggested, “hey, I think your Mechatronics background would be applicable here”. The rest is history as Izzy followed the development of the EV from being charged by an idea to an actual charging station.

The incredible power of EVs

Taking a step back, it’s unfathomable what Izzy and the rest of the Project Arrow team were able to accomplish with their EV design. She says, “being on such a small team for such a big and fast project we've had to take on a lot of responsibilities…in a short time”. Izzy follows with, “but looking back on it now, it's been amazing… being able to do all these things like supplier management…we have the ability to implement designs. We have the ability to find problems and to resolve them…. And then take those learnings back with us. So this has been just an incredible experience, especially at our age, especially at an undergraduate level”. From an outside perspective, it’s easy to agree with Izzy. It is incredible what the engineering team accomplished.

Developing the EV

Izzy was instrumental in the EV project, where she had to leap into the small details that fell from the big picture. She says, “I've kind of just fell into a bunch of different roles over the last two years…just whatever is needed”. This involved, “a lot of supplier management and sourcing parts and coordinating shipments and delivery, working with people in different time zones was entirely new to me, so to be here for 7:00 AM for a meeting with somebody across the world where it was 7:00 PM their time”. Innovative ideas and efforts don’t sleep, and Izzy was up for all of the new EV developments.

Future of the EV

Izzy is ready to take on tomorrow. Already a proven engineering pioneer Izzy says, “I graduated in April. So I've wrapped up with the university…but for us, we had the amazing opportunity of attending CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas earlier this year, so having this little car on the world stage was incredible…I made a lot of connections there that have definitely impacted my future”.

Solving today’s existential threats and problems is daunting. But Izzy represents some certainty in our uncertain environmental future by helping design and create this electric vehicle.

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