Outreach Coordinators Shine at EcoCAR Finals

Now is the time for the EcoCAR outreach coordinators to strut their stuff and show off the types of outreach they’ve conducted, such as organizing public events, producing commercials, and working with children, during this third and final year of the competition. The EcoCAR judges begin scoring outreach presentations today, and will finish the scoring process tomorrow.

It is the outreach coordinator’s job to find creative ways to show off the unique vehicle architecture each team created, and to stress the need for alternative fuels and technologies to the public. They work with media and public education events in their respective regions, but they often target national outreach as well, especially through the use of social media. The teams harness the widespread audiences of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs, as well as reaching out to government officials, the media, and youth.

The outreach coordinators had many accomplishments to share with the judges today. For instance, several teams welcomed visits from their congressmen and senators. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin was so impressed with the team that she wrote about their vehicle on her blog. The University of Waterloo team held a luncheon with local officials to discuss EcoCAR and the topic of advanced vehicle technologies and talk about what the local government was doing to encourage the adoption of advanced vehicles.

In addition to general outreach, this third year of EcoCAR required the students to focus on consumer acceptability, so the outreach teams were required to work even more closely with   engineering students to create educational stickers and commercials about their vehicles’ energy efficiency. Each team designed window stickers similar to those found on new vehicles, to list the fuel economy ratings and estimate how much alternative fuel it will take to run the vehicle. For instance, the plug-in hybrid electric vehicles list number of hours required for a full charge. Many teams also made professional-quality commercials that showed off their vehicles’ best qualities. All the commercials will be aired during the competition, and some were even aired locally.

“With the year coming to a close, there is really a sense of accomplishment,” said Jamie Kleinendorst, Michigan Tech’s outreach coordinator. “It felt really good to talk about all the events we planned and attended, when you step back and look at it, it is satisfying to see everything we did.”

In other news, the engineering students completed the last of the dynamic testing events on their vehicles last night and are spending the day traveling from Detroit to Washington, D.C., where they will present static presentations to judges on the engineering and software work that went into their vehicle designs.