2014 Genius Garage Team

Team Member Bios and Information

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The first genius meeting; left to right: Kyle Norton, Austin Wright, Lawrence Lei, Taylor Wilson, Tiko Nelson, Mahesh Chigurupati, Shreyas Shivaprasad, and Chris Scherzer

Crew Chief, Engine

Kyle Norton

Age: 27
Major: Fine Arts, emphasis in Painting and Drawing

As the main brain behind the engine, Kyle Norton epitomizes resourcefulness and creativity. He defies the typical artist stereotype through his demonstration of independence, optimism, and knowledge of cars. Starting with adoration of American muscle cars as a child, Kyle’s passion for both the arts and cars has been an integral part of his life. One of his most recent achievements in the academic world is graduating from Ohio State with a Bachelor’s degree of Fine Arts. Kyle’s favorite part of the Genius Garage program so far has been the opportunity to pick the brains of the guest mentors that have visited the shop. His insight and his desire for knowledge is extremely apparent which is useful for fulfilling both the Crew Chief and the Engine Leader roles.

Shop Manager

Tiko Nelson

Age: 20
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Behind the fuzzy hat, Tiko Nelson is a very important part of the Genius Garage. Not only is he a focused and proactive individual, he is also magnanimous and benevolent. His drive is ideal as the role of the Shop Manager, making sure certain projects are completed before competition. His love for cars actually began as family competition while go-karting and has evolved into organizing projects for a student Indy racing team. Tiko is also very bright, earning a 32 score on his ACT test and striving for only the best in academia. As the tallest member of the geniuses, Tiko is able to present himself with authority and respect. Each day has been a new adventure for Tiko at the Genius Garage and has had an amazing time thus far.


Lawrence Lei

Age: 20
Major: Chemical Engineering

Lawrence Lei is definitely the quietest of the geniuses, but he has evolved from semi-reclusive to social butterfly. He is reliable, trustworthy, and driven, making him the perfect person to be in charge of the transmission for the Indy car. His extensive knowledge of math not only helped him place 10th in a state-wide math competition, it has helped him calculate gear ratios and other data for the Reynard gearbox. For Lawrence, there is no other better application of math than to cars; he has been researching and adoring cars since the 4th grade when his friend first introduced him to the car world. Luckily, the Genius Garage has been able to expand his love for cars. So far, his favorite part of the program has been the opportunity to open the transaxle and being able to see how everything works.

Aerodynamics & Suspension

Austin Wright

Age: 18
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Austin Wright is a right-brained young man. He is goal-oriented, tenacious, driven, and enjoys thinking outside the box (which is good because boxes aren’t very aerodynamic). Austin is in charge of aerodynamics of the Indy car including the front wings, nose, and the rear wings. He joined the Genius Garage because cars for him were “love at first sight.” Ever since he began playing racing video games, his love for cars has expanded immensely. Austin’s right-brain mindset sees the beauty in design not only for the aerodynamic elements on the car, but also for other engineering tasks. His design of a yin-yang-shaped table a few years ago was received well and ended up being one of Austin’s proudest achievements. His favorite part of the team so far has been the ability to gain hands-on engineering experience aside from his development of powered armor.

Science Officer, Cooling & Brakes

Mahesh Chigurupati

Age: 19
Major: Chemical Engineering

As his picture suggests, Mahesh Chigurupati is a remarkably well-spoken young man, exemplifying class and formality. Not only does he present himself in a knowledgable manner, he is also loyal, entertaining, and a fascinating individual to talk to. His first few memories of car obsession stem from HotWheels; being able to recognize the different types of cars, their names, and their specifications, Mahesh has taken pride in his progression of knowledge of cars. Being the perfect candidate for multiple leadership positions in Ohio State student organizations, Mahesh is a natural-born leader and is able to juggle working on the Indy car with his extracurricular responsibilities. As the Science Officer, Mahesh is in charge of the cooling and brakes for the Indy car. His favorite part of being on the Genius Garage Student Racing Team so far has been wrapping his mind around the complexity of the cooling system of the race car.

Cockpit, Interface, Ergonomics

Chris Scherzer

Age: 19
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Don’t judge this book by its cover; Chris Scherzer may be young, but his knowledge of cars is mind-blowing. Ever since his first HotWheels toy car, he has been obsessed with beauty, design, and the dedication of the people who work on cars, strongly influencing his choice of joining the Genius Garage program. For the Indy car, Chris is in charge of the cockpit of the car including the interface and ergonomics of the steering wheel and driving components. Under his young exterior, Chris is a super cool ladies’ man, creative, hardworking, and very well-rounded. Not only that, he is also a really great dancer. His favorite part of the program so far has been moving into the new shop space and having the opportunity to bond with the other team members over the shared love for cars and vintage racing.

Fuel Injection & Engine Management

Shreyas Shivaprasad

Age: 22
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Shreyas Shivaprasad can be described as persistent, studious, and passionately curious. His love for working on and learning about cars has been prevalent for him since the beginning and his curiosity has allowed him to expand his knowledge and his view of cars. Because of the opportunity Ohio State has given Shreyas to pursue a Master’s of Science, he has been able to evolve from a car enthusiast to a car specialist. Shreyas has found that the Genius Garage has also helped this progression of knowledge through his work on the fuel injection system. The Genius Garage has made it possible for him to explore engine management systems, tuning electronics, and testing as well as other car functions. The team has also transformed Shreyas into loving the United States and he is now known for yelling “‘Murican!” in the shop. Shreyas has found comfort with the team and is excited to see what new adventures lie ahead for him.

Leaders and Mentors

Founder, Director, Driver

Casey Putsch

Program Founder, Director, Owner of Putsch Racing

Despite being the eldest of the geniuses, Casey Putsch is the very definition of energy; his old soul personality is coupled with his youthful obsession of cars and automobiles, leading to his dedication to the racing world. He is a driven, dedicated, and animated individual, telling and acting out stories to entertain and teach the geniuses valuable life lessons. Casey’s connection with cars began with a cruise with his dad in a ’67 Corvette; the sound of the engine and the rush of the wind was enough for young Casey to pursue cars in his future. He started the Genius Garage Program not only to continue his love for racing and cars, but to provide college students with the opportunity of progressing in the real world that they miss out on while in school. Casey has enjoyed every moment of the program, despite ups and downs, but he has found the most enjoyment from watching the students grow, develop, and learn from visiting mentors and others. When he isn’t opening champagne bottles with a sword or attending galas, he helps eight college students have the opportunities that never arise in a conventional school setting.


PR, Branding & Marketing

Taylor Wilson

Public Relations, Branding & Marketing Consultant, Volunteer

Taylor Wilson is a quirky, dependable, and focused young woman. Her professional career in the automotive world began when a love for cars blossomed a few years ago when a friend of hers introduced her to the beauty of cars through drawings and soon began attending car shows and became a member of the Formula Buckeyes team at Ohio State. After college, Taylor pursued other professional markets, but found that racing was always the high point as she felt she gained the most experience by volunteering with the students. Her art background combined with her recent love for cars has given her the perfect opportunity to become the Genius Garage’s Media and Branding Consultant and is in charge of maintaining media, branding, and web content of the team.