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June 2, 2024

For information on admission to Notre Dame Prep, please click here

Alum who founded international autonomous vehicle competition oversees its 31st year on the Oakland University campus; says the connection between NDHS and NDP is strong. 

Notre Dame alum Gerald Lane ND'68 is with Elizabeth Crosson, director of alumni relations, at this year's Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC) on the Oakland University campus.

This weekend, Oakland University is hosting the 31th Annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC), which provides an opportunity for engineers and computer scientists from around the world to compete with their uniquely designed autonomous unmanned ground vehicles (UGV). 

For Notre Dame High School alum Gerald Lane who oversees the goings-on, the annual event has been deeply personal as he and a professor at Oakland University founded the competition in 1993. In fact, it was a 1992 visit to the Georgia Institute of Technology to judge what was then called the International Aerial Robotics Competition that sparked the idea for IGVC.

"During my second trip to Georgia to judge the IARC, I realized I should be doing the same type of university student competition for ground vehicles," he said. "As a board member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, I requested and received approval and funding to perform the First Annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition in 1993."

One of the most advanced projects

Lane said in the early 1990s, a co-worker at the Detroit Arsenal, a U.S. Army facility in Warren, Mich., connected him with Dr. Ka C. Cheok, who is professor and John Dodge chair in the electrical and computer engineering department at Oakland University. 

"Dr. Cheok agreed to co-chair and organize OU resources to co-host the 1993 competition," Lane added.

The IGVC challenges teams from around the world to build and operate autonomous robotic vehicles on an outdoor course with defined lanes, GPS waypoints and obstacles. The four-day competition is held annually on Oakland’s campus.

Andrew McGhee NDP'20, center, is with his IGVC team from Oakland University at the competition this weekend.

“The IGVC is a total vehicle system engineering experience,” said Lane, who enjoyed a long career in automotive and defense engineering systems. “It also provides a cutting-edge engineering education for students. It represents one of the most advanced projects they will be involved with in school.”

Typically, the competition sees teams from many of the world's top engineering schools, including Georgia Tech, Wayne State University, Penn State University, Cooper Union, the University of Toronto, Cal State and the Vellore Institute of Technology (India) among others.

Lane was working for the U.S. Army Tank Automotive R&D Center in 1993 and saw IGVC as an effective activity to develop high-capability students, faculty and universities in intelligent (autonomous) vehicles. 

"Our IGVC committee also integrated automotive aspects of autonomy by initially engaging the Federal Highway Administration and National Highway Transportation Administration before the automotive Industry began coming up with their own self-driving challenges," he said.

Notre Dame High a building block for university and career

Lane said he also loves the connection that Notre Dame in Harper Woods has with ND Prep in Pontiac, which for him is a family matter.  

"Watching my grandsons playing football at Notre Dame Prep gave me a sense of coming home even though my high school campus was miles away," he said. "I really think the tradition still is strong, 56 years after I graduated."

It was after Lane graduated from Notre Dame that he headed to the University of Detroit (now U-D Mercy) where he earned a degree in engineering and an MBA. Lane noted that his high school experience was directly responsible for his university success and ultimately for a long career.

"NDHS was a critical building block for my education, developing a solid base for my engineering eduction while blessing me with long lasting friendships," he said.

"So many of my NDHS friends went to the University of Detroit that the first couple of years there seemed like a couple more years at Notre Dame."


For information on admission to Notre Dame Prep, please click here.

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School
"At Notre Dame Prep, we inspire our students to become the best versions of themselves. We challenge them through an experience of academic excellence, focused on active, project-based learning. We invite them to explore a world of opportunities beyond the classroom. We guide them as they grow in spirituality within a community strong in its Catholic and Marist identity."

Notre Dame Preparatory School is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School's upper school enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame Prep's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDP is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School, visit the school’s home page at