Designing cleaner vehicles

Adi Mehrotra, a second-year master's student in mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and former MIT D-Lab student, leads the MIT Electric Vehicle Team and is working to enhance the university's mechanical engineering curriculum.

Adi reflects on his formative time at MIT D-Lab, through which he attended a summer internship in Ghana with the lab's spinout Moving Health, saying: “There are a lot of classes at MIT that have taught me a lot of things, of course. However, in D-Lab, I walked in with one assumption about good ways to make the world a better place and they kind of flipped that on its head. [D-Lab] approaches problem-solving from this local perspective that if you can help one person very well, that is a bigger success than helping 100 people poorly.”


Adi Mehrotra knew that his time at MIT wasn’t up yet when he finished his undergraduate degree in 2022. During his first four years at the Institute, he was a critical member of the Solar Electric Vehicle Team (SEVT) and eventually led the group to victory in a five-day, 900-mile race. Later, he translated the skills he learned from SEVT to a summer internship in Ghana with the [MIT D-Lab spinout]  Moving Health, where he worked on low-cost ambulances that could transport patients from remote villages to medical care, without relying on gasoline. But there were still more projects he wanted to tackle.

Now, as a second-year master’s degree student in mechanical engineering, Mehrotra has channeled his energy into two arenas: designing clean energy vehicles and enhancing mechanical engineering education at MIT. For the former, he has taken the helm of the MIT Electric Vehicle Team, a student-led research team that is probing the future of transportation by designing a hydrogen-powered motorcycle. And for his master’s thesis research, Mehrotra is building a new mechatronics curriculum, an interdisciplinary course at the intersection of mechanical and electrical engineering.

Mehrotra cannot remember a time in his life when science did not consume his attention. He credits his parents with fostering this interest, by encouraging scientific thinking with subscriptions to Ask magazine and National Geographic, and lots of LEGO play from a very young age.