Young Talent Attraction

Miriam DiRusso


Position: Doctoral Student, Mechanical Engineering
Institution: Wayne State University
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Hometown: Gaeta, Italy
Focus: Leading EcoCAR3 team at WSU


“It is up to you to see and learn as much as you can about the place you choose. I have found my place in Detroit.”

A four-month student exchange program at Wayne State University was so gratifying for Miriam DiRusso that she is back for more — four more years, in fact. DiRusso, from the seaside town of Gaeta, Italy, is a graduate research assistant pursuing her doctorate in mechanical engineering.

She first learned about Wayne State while studying for her master’s degree at the University of L’Aquila, Italy, when she met students participating in the annual Wayne In Abruzzo summer immersion program. Shortly thereafter, the University of L’Aquila offered a similar program for its students, and sponsored DiRusso and two others to come to WSU.

Under the tutelage of Jerry Ku, associate professor of mechanical engineering in the WSU College of Engineering, DiRusso joined the EcoCAR 2 competition, a North American collegiate event sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors.


“It is extremely satisfying to see that the College of Engineering and the EcoCAR student design project have reached the level of recognition to attract such highly qualified and committed students as Miriam, who returned after the end of their exchange program to complete a formal degree,” said Ku, who also is DiRusso’s dissertation advisor.

DiRusso is now leading the team in the EcoCAR3 competition, which challenges participants to re-engineer a Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid electric that runs on renewable fuels without compromising safety or its appeal to muscle car fanatics.

“The EcoCAR competitions allow unique applications of automotive engineering concepts and opportunities to study all aspects of the field,” DiRusso said.

Only 16 North American universities were selected to compete in the EcoCAR3 competition.


“I am so excited about the real-world experiences it offers me. There is nothing like it.”