Communications and outreach have always played vital roles in Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions. The students involved in communications and outreach are involved in a variety of majors and bring diverse backgrounds into a primarily engineering-focused collegiate team. Programs like AVTCs develop important speaking and communication skills, as well as real-world applied education.
Not only does it integrate AVTC teams with their local community, it informs and educates the community about alternative vehicles and energy. These programs help to make the community aware of what the competitions accomplish, as well as educate the youth and public communities on advanced vehicle technologies and alternative fuels.
The Beginning of Outreach in AVTCs
During FutureTruck, universities were challenged with managing their own media relations in each community. However, the communication aspect of AVTCs became more structured during Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility, and opened up opportunities for students from different disciplines to get involved in the competition. For the first time in competitions, students from public relations and marketing majors were able apply their classroom learning in communication to the AVTC competition.
The following year, the outreach program was officially integrated into AVTCs, and as a scored part of the competition, consisted of specific goals and deliverables. “Outreach Coordinator” became an official role on each Challenge X team and student outreach coordinators worked on ways to reach out to the local community and youth.
Almost a decade later, the outreach coordinator role has transformed into the title of “Communications Manager.” While the name has changed, the role is just as important in educating the public, youth, and media on the benefits of advanced vehicle technology and programs like AVTCs.
Importance of Education and Outreach
One of the primary roles of the communications and outreach program is to educate the youth and public on the benefits of advanced vehicle technologies and alternative fuels. Over the years, these students have held an impressive number and variety of outreach events, including traveling to K-12 schools, hosting consumer events and garage tours, presenting at industry conferences, and displaying at auto shows and media events. The communication and outreach program also led the student engineers from the garage out into the community, where they talked to consumers and the public about their vehicle design and the importance of advanced vehicles.
Partnerships with Government, Industry, and Academia
Every year, thousands of community members benefit from participating in AVTC outreach events. In 2010, AVTCs formed a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program. This mutually beneficial relationship has allowed both organizations to work together on educating the public on petroleum reduction and advanced technologies. The partnership continues to grow each and every year as both work together for a common goal.
For instance, several universities participated in the National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Odyssey Day event in 2012 and collaborate throughout the academic year on public and stakeholder events, alternative fuel station openings, and more. Learn more about the partnership between the two by watching one of the videos below: