Team Interviews: Karel Winderickx
--Karel Winderickx: Public Relations & Events--
Karel Winderickx is in his final year of Electronical Engineering Sciences at the University of Leuven at Campus Group T. Karel is responsible for the PR and Events of the Punch Powertrain Solar Team.
What was your motivation to become part of the Punch Powertrain Solar Team?
“I had already studied Industrial Sciences in high school and took a ‘Technical drawing’ course. In addition, I was fascinated by technology and how things work. As a result, I had eight hours of math a week in my last year of high school, which made the choice for Engineering Sciences quite obvious. I heard about the Solar team for the first time when I was working as a youth animator. One of my colleagues told me about the team. I immediately thought it was an interesting project. Eventually I choose to study at Campus Group T because of the Solar Team, so the project definitely influenced my choice of university. I applied for the position of Corporate Relations and PR, but, due to internal shifts in the team, I got the Events department and the part of Corporate Relations went to Joren.”
What does the PR function entail?
“With regard to PR, I am mainly responsible for communications at the Solar Team. This can go from website and social media management to distributing press releases to the media. In the beginning it was quite hard to streamline all forms of communication as I had never done this before. But now, thanks to some helpful tools such as Tweetdeck, I can for example schedule our tweets so I don’t have to create and post all of them on the spot. Especially during the World Solar Challenge it will be crucial to update the media daily regarding our position in the race. This will not be easy because at times we will be driving through an area with very limited connectivity. However, I can count on the help of the University’s press office in case of any questions. In addition we are being helped by a communications agency that is sponsoring us and often comes with good tips. Besides these media updates, I also try to promote our different events.”
What types of events do you organise?
“Firstly we organise three networking events each year for our different sponsors. This way, they are kept up to speed on the status of the build and have an opportunity to do some networking with other sponsors. In the beginning, I had to learn a lot on how to organise such events, especially with a low budget. Fortunately, I had a lot of help from one of our sponsors to organise these events and balance the budget. Apart from the networking events, we also organise the Solar Olympics each year. For this competition we invite different secondary schools in Flanders to build a solar powered gadget with a limited budget. With this also comes the followup of the schools and organising the event itself. At the start of the build of each new Solar Car, the previous Solar Team organises the Solar Tour. During this tour, that lasts two weeks, the previous team visits their different sponsors with their car to thank them for their continuous support. Furthermore we are present in large cities during the weekends to raise awareness for the Solar Car and the Solar Challenge.”
What are the most important things you have learned?
“The most important thing I have learned from being a part of the Solar Team, is a profound knowledge regarding the communication sector and the organisation of events. This is a strong addition to my knowledge that will certainly come in handy when I start working as a professional. Due to my cooperation with Joren, who is responsible for corporate relations, I have also learned how to negotiate contracts with different companies.”