Student Spotlight: Lucas Antunes


A Remarkable “Come-Here”

 Lucas Antunes is quick to tell you that he loves the Eastern Shore, and he has a vision for enhancing his adopted community. He wants to create opportunities and deliver innovations that are inspired by the natural beauty and resources of the Shore. 

Just shy of an architectural degree from his home in Brazil, Lucas opted to move to the U.S. with his wife Ashley, who is from the Shore, and their young daughter, Tuli. 

Lucas grew up surrounded by a love split between art and technology. His father was an electrical engineer in Brazil who worked on construction projects of hydroelectric power plants. He helped cement Lucas’s early learnings towards technology by encouraging Lucas to build computers from spare parts, explore the Linux operating system, and ultimately writing his own software. 

He felt very much like he had come full circle with a parallel universe when he encountered Professor John Floyd and the electronics program at Your Eastern Shore Community College. John says, “Lucas is both bright and hardworking. Every teacher appreciates that kind of student.” 

In addition to getting started at ESCC he also secured a position at New Ravenna, where his architectural studies proved helpful in becoming an operations analyst. There he worked on conceptualizing projects. 

Lucas Antunes and fellow electronics classmate Tyler Zodun captured for a recent video feature.

And he immersed himself in the natural resources and historic occupations on the Shore. For example, he spent two years clamming and oystering, which he continues to do on a small scale, and also working on construction projects between studies. Lucas was still able to carve out enough time to achieve status as a U.S. citizen, work part-time at the Island House Restaurant, and volunteer for Eastern Shore’s Own Art Center in Belle Haven. 

However, it was a chance meeting with Joe Betit of Pungoteague, a retired professional with a broad background in global construction, surveying, and international finance, that served as the impetus to align all of Lucas’ varied experiences into a focused goal for the future. 

On the premise of helping Joe with a kitchen remodel, the two quickly struck up conversations about everything from AutoCAD to ultimately drones, as Lucas noticed one Joe had from his time as a program coordinator at ODU’s School of Engineering. This early affiliation between Lucas and Joe was the seed for what ultimately developed into Earth Systems Management, LLC. 

Joined by Jesse McCaleb, Joslyn Herold, and Dade Walker, Lucas and Betit have furthered the dream of building a hydrodrone that could greatly impact the Eastern Shore and its environment by introducing a cost-effective data collection option in shallow water. Measuring flow, salinity, and temperatures of local waterways would be of immediate use to those working in the areas of environmental science, aquaculture, and marine engineering. 

ESCC VP Dr. Patrick Tompkins stops and chats with Lucas between classes on campus.

The group’s efforts have recently been recognized by winning second place and $25,000 in the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery entrepreneurship competition in Salisbury, Md. Perks of this honor also include an assigned free office for six months in the Downtown Center for Entrepreneurship and the assignment of two business mentors. 

As Lucas watches a number of experiences, inspirations, and important alliances all come to fruition with Earth Systems Management, he’s also completing his studies at Eastern Shore Community College. He will graduate in May 2022 with an associate degree in Electronics Technology. He credits the college with supporting him all along the way to completing the degree. 

In addition to being a Ratcliffe Technical Scholar through ESCC and the Ratcliffe Foundation, Lucas is the recipient of the Virginia Aerospace Business Association Scholarship for 2021-2022. His goal is to secure a position at NASA and continue his educational journey towards an engineering degree. 

Patrick Tompkins, vice president at ESCC commented, “Lucas represents both the past and the future of the Shore. He’s embraced traditions on our waterways and is propelling himself and his community forward through projects like the hydrodrone. Patrick added, “The road that is leading him there runs through Your Eastern Shore Community College.”