Former Penn State EcoCAR Outreach Coordinator Allison Lilly stays in close touch with her team. She paid the group a visit early in Year Two, and she was as excited as anyone when Penn State claimed victory in May.
Allison graduated from Penn State in May 2012 with a degree in public relations – or as Allison would say, “I majored in EcoCAR and minored in PR.” Allison participated in the program for three years because she loved the chance to compete with other schools and the opportunity to work for such a fulfilling project.
“It was personally rewarding to be able to use my skill set of communication skills and apply it to something that has so much impact on our environment,” Allison said.
Allison began working with EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge as a sophomore in 2009. She first heard about the competition because she was assigned EcoCAR as a client when she started working at Happy Valley Communications, a student-run public relations firm at Penn State. In her junior and senior years, Allison served as the team’s outreach coordinator, and she led a dedicated group of outreach team members to a second place finish in Year One of EcoCAR 2.
Growing up, Allison’s sister instilled in her a love of sustainability. She set an example in leading a green, energy-conscious lifestyle and that helped mold who Allison grew up to be. Although Allison never pictured herself being involved in an engineering competition, it just made sense.
“I have always loved technology, but I knew I was a very strong communicator as well,” she said. “EcoCAR helped me combine the two perfectly.” She knew the hands-on experience the competition gave her would jump-start her career.
Allison now works for General Electric Energy Management in the Communications Leadership Development Program (CLDP). This challenging program focuses on developing top communications and public relations talent. She is currently in her second rotation working with Public Relations and Public Affairs at GE Energy Management. Allison is the second Penn Stater ever to enter the program and one of nine employees hired in the program this year.
Allison is a perfect example of how far you can go if you take advantage of the right opportunities. She hopes the new team members are as passionate and dedicated to EcoCAR as those in the past have been, but for their sake, she hopes they don’t have to pull too many all-nighters in the garage.
And after all she’s learned, what’s her advice to those still on Penn State’s EcoCAR 2 team?
“Take a deep dive, and learn how this technology is making an impact on the auto industry,” she said. “But more importantly, always remember the impact you’re making by being a part of the competition.”