When Abbey Will (née Underwood) signed on to serve as outreach coordinator for The Ohio State University’s EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge team, she was hoping to get some real-world experience.
Not only did Abbey discover a job she loved and attain learning valuable skills for her future career at Marathon Pipe Line LLC, she also made memories that have stuck with her today.
“I was looking for something that would give me experience in community outreach, specifically with schools, and it turned out EcoCAR did just that,” she said. “It’s really how I figured out what I wanted to do and I became passionate about it. I liked all the job functions.”
It was the 2010-11 school year and Abbey, a senior and marketing major, was given the task of visiting schools, museums and public events to talk about vehicles powered by alternative fuels, as well as Ohio State’s EcoCAR team. She was also working to generate media coverage about the team, writing press releases and developing strategies to promote the program.
“At the time, it was just great to get out and talk about the program,” she said. “You met a lot of people around the state and in the automotive industry.”
Today, Abbey works in Findlay, Ohio as a damage prevention analyst for Marathon Pipe Line LLC, having parlayed her experiences into a career.
“When I interviewed with Marathon Pipe Line, I was able to talk about my work as an outreach coordinator and that I gained these skills in community outreach and communications from EcoCAR,” she said. “Today, I’m educating people about measures that can be taken for safe digging practices and what to do in a pipeline emergency.”
With pipelines in 16 states, Abbey coordinates education programs for public schools and property owners. The programs she oversees instruct people about calling 811 prior to digging so utility companies can be notified and mark the locations of underground utility lines before the first shovel goes into the ground.
Through EcoCAR, Abbey said she learned all the things she does in her current job, like building a communications plan, implementing it and tracking results.
And of course, as a team competing with other schools in the Big Ten Conference, there was plenty of healthy competition.
“You were always trying to keep up with the Joneses,” she said. “When it came down to it we were always friends, but you were always checking out to see what the others were doing.”
One tradition that Abbey remembers fondly was the annual tailgate with Penn State before the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions took to the football field.
“We would tour each other’s facility and then have the cars on display and educate the public about EcoCAR,” Abbey said. “It was a great bonding experience and something that I really enjoyed.
“It made it less of a competition and gave us a chance to know one and other on a personal level and learn from each other. And I find that in my job today, we’re always sharing different ideas when we work with different companies and learning from each other so it’s very similar to my experience with EcoCAR.”