Spotted in Los Angeles: EcoCAR 2!

What a wild week Year One Competition turned out to be! In addition to receiving dozens of awards and being handed the keys to their 2013 Chevrolet Malibus, EcoCAR 2 teams experienced their own brush with celebrity!

After being featured on Good Day LA, the University of Washington’s Blake Simpson was satirized on The Soup last week. And The Soup producers weren’t the only ones watching all the EcoCAR 2 coverage – Transportation Security Administration inspectors apparently caught the story on KTLA Channel 5 News! Check out the note Siemens Senior Director of Partner Strategy, Bill Boswell, received, when his bag was searched because of his EcoCAR 2 award:

The Channel 5 story got Virginia Tech noticed too: Jeffery Osmer, foreman at 20th Century Fox Film Archive, spotted the Hokies on television. Turns out that the wife of Jeffery’s cousin, Amy Scheiper, is a Virginia Tech alumna. Recognizing the connection, Jeffery extended a very special invitation to HEVT team members: a private tour of the 20th Century Fox Studios facilities.

“It was crazy when Jesse [Alley, team leader] told me that we were going to 20th Century Fox Studios,” said outreach coordinator Virginia Hyer. “I never thought in a million years that I would be touring a studio set in Los Angeles,” she said.

The tour began with visits to many of the sound stages on the grounds. The behind the scenes back-lot tour featured locations where TV shows like House and Bones and movies like War of the Worlds were filmed. “I had no idea the sound stages were so versatile and have been home to so many famous movie scenes,” said team member Taylor Ashworth. Team members also walked down New York Street. Jeffery described how the street could be altered based on what needs to be filmed. When walking around the studio we even spotted Blake Anderson from the TV show Workaholics.

The team also had the opportunity to look at the film and prop archives. Guides shared insight about the effort that goes into identifying and preserving original film reels. They showed us original film reels of the Titanic, Star Wars and many more. Jeff Minnich, engineering vice president, gave the team a tour of the more technical aspects of the studio like the engineering used in the protection and storage of old and new films. He also shared how 20th Century Fox is moving toward more sustainable practices like using compostable silverware in cafeterias and how some of the buildings use solar panels.

One of the team’s favorite parts of the tour was holding props that were used in actual movies. Gianna Babando, director of archives, locates and preserves props used in feature films. For Virginia, holding Orlando Bloom’s sword from the film Kingdoms of Heaven was her favorite part of the tour. Year 2 team leader Chris Manning found putting on Wolverine’s claws from X-Men “the best part, by far.” Other props came from Planet of the Apes and Last of the Mohicans.

Hearing stories from Gianna and Jeffery about their experiences with actors and living in LA was also a highlight of the tour. Jeffery explained the ins and outs of producing a movie. “I had no clue that so many people worked to produce a movie, and that so much goes into protecting the movie before its release,” said Virginia. “They even have code names for movies, so no one can steal their ideas,” she said.

“It was a once in a lifetime experience to be able to have a back-lot tour of the studio…I will never forget being there,” said team member Josh Hickman. The team would like to thank Amy, their Hokie benefactor for the pizza lunch and for taking the time out of her day help set up the tour. “We definitely felt Hokie pride and the strength of our Hokie Nation and were very grateful for this opportunity,” said controls GRA Jon King. HEVT would also like to give a special thank you to Jeffery, Gianna and Jeff for making their time at 20th Century Fox Studios an amazing experience.

Congratulations to all the EcoCAR 2 teams whose hard work earned them media coverage during Competition!