I was visiting my brother in Seattle over winter break, so I was interviewed over Skype by Brandon and Jason (my current manager and mentor respectively).
Near the end of the interview, Brandon asked me, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
When I told him I wanted to contribute to sustainability, Brandon and Jason looked at each other, smiled, and said they would have some work waiting for me in the summer.
I knew a little bit about sustainability at SAS from my brother, who used to work here; he told me about some of SAS’ sustainability efforts like the on-campus solar farms. So when Jason scheduled a lunch and tour of SAS with Zane, one of the members on the sustainability team, I was ecstatic.
So a couple weeks ago, Zane took me, Jason and Brandon out to see all of the aspects that make SAS such a green company. We visited Solar Farm 1 and 2, the SAS sheep that keep the grass cut and the newly installed beehives.
Then Zane took us inside Building C and pointed out everything that helps SAS gain all of their LEED certifications, things like having parking spots for electric vehicles and making furniture out of the trees that were cut down for building construction.
I left that day eager to work for a company that values environmental consciousness to such a high degree.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been corresponding with Zane and learning about SAS datasets regarding sustainability. Part of my work here at SAS involves moving content from SAS Visual Analytics 7.3 to SAS Visual Analytics 8.1 on the new Viya platform, and it’s been a pleasant experience using this software to build reports on data I’m passionate about. I’ve had a lot of fun making reports on electric vehicles, campus energy and water usage here at SAS.
Sometimes when people find out that I’m studying computer science and I want to make an impact in sustainability, they aren’t sure what the direct link is. But I strongly believe in the power of machine learning and analytics to find solutions to some of the hardest environmental problems.
For example, a couple weeks ago, Zane told me how he was busy installing new sensors and monitors on the solar farms and buildings to track energy usage. By harvesting this data, we can look and see where the most energy is being consumed, how much energy the farms are producing versus the ideal amount, and similar metrics. In the Internet of Things Era, where endless amounts of data are going uncaptured, computer scientists and statisticians are crucial to solving one of the biggest world problems: climate change.
Although my summer internship ends in a few weeks, I’m excited to jump into my sophomore year at NC State. I’ve been inspired by the way SAS uses analytics to adopt sustainable habits, and my hope is that students everywhere would learn to adopt a sustainable lifestyle too.
The greatest inspiration to live sustainably is to simply go out and experience nature itself. This past year, I went on an Alternative Service Break trip to Trinidad and Tobago with the Goodnight Scholars Program over spring break.
Photos courtesy of the Goodnight Scholars Program
By being immersed into a small, biodiverse island, while also teaching lessons to kids in primary schools about sustainability, I left Trinidad inspired to make a difference. I take those lessons with me wherever I go.
There are many ways to get involved on campus too. I attended several events hosted by Climate Reality Project this past year, where I learned about many implications of climate change I never thought of before. I also want to get involved with Engineers Without Borders, who has projects like installing solar panels and building wells around the world.
Even changing how you eat can make a significant impact. Simply taking one day a week to not eat meat can go a long way, as meat production consumes a lot more resources than growing vegetables does. People making a lot of small choices each day can add up to make a big difference.
During my first couple of days here at SAS, I was reading the SAS Corporate Social Responsibility 2015 Annual Report, and Dr. Goodnight said something that stuck with me since (and even made it on my wall at work): “Being socially responsible is about making tomorrow a priority -- today.”
So, if we hope for a green planet tomorrow, let that inform how we do our work today.