Penn State Team Hits Ball Out of the Park with SpikesFest


Penn State EcoCAR team members with Pittsburgh's Pirate Parrot

The Penn State EcoCAR team attended the fourth annual SpikesFest on Valentine’s Day, with a goal of raising awareness in their local community about the EcoCAR Challenge. SpikesFest, a family-friendly indoor baseball festival, is put on each year by the State College Spikes minor league baseball team. More than 1,500 State College residents attended the festival, and were given the opportunity to hang out with the mascots from both the State College Spikes and Pittsburgh Pirates. In addition, they were able to speak with members of green student organizations and participate in fun activities, such as creating their own baseball cards.  

SpikesFest was also a great event to promote the LiveGreen influencer campaign that was initiated by outreach coordinator Dana Bubonovich. “SpikesFest was the perfect opportunity to expand our education outreach efforts to the community,” said Bubonovich.  

At the festival, Penn State EcoCAR outreach members handed out pamphlets about their team, as well as LiveGreen bracelets, EcoCAR balloons, coloring pages and word searches for the children.  The team was also able to gain support and hang out with local sports mascots.  The Nittany Lion, Ike the Spike, and Pittsburgh Pirate Parrot stopped by the EcoCAR booth to show support Penn State’s Advanced Vehicle Team as well as the LiveGreen campaign.  

Although most of the crowd consisted of children, many parents and adults were interested to know that college students are taking an active role in developing “greener” vehicle technologies.  

Jaclyn Stratten, an outreach team member, was impressed with the amount of adults who were interested and knowledgeable about the EcoCAR Challenge. “While the kids were picking up coloring pages, the parents would ask our engineers in-depth questions about specific features in the vehicle,” said Stratten.  “It was great to see the parents engaging as much as the kids.”  

Many adults offered suggestions about what they would like to see in a hybrid SUV.  One mother with three children asked if the Penn State EcoCAR could include a third row of seating, while another father wished for 50mpg in the E-REV.  The event reflected people’s concerns about the environment and their tremendous interest in hybrid vehicles.  Many of their suggestions were relevant to all Americans and could be used in future hybrid vehicles.  

Overall, the event was a success for the Penn State EcoCAR team. They were able to raise awareness about their program, along with other green initiatives, while having fun and engaging with their local community.