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Posted by Carolyn Heefner on March 21, 2018
In our "Life After Bing" series, we bring you quick interviews with alumni who are leaders in their fields, trail-blazers. Find out how these alums got to be where they are now, and how Binghamton shaped their lives.
Our featured alumna is Devan Tracy ’13, energy analyst at Lockheed Martin, an American global aerospace, defense, security and advanced technologies company. After making a splash at Binghamton by co-founding the Bike-Share program, joining Harpur Jazz Ensemble, working at Outdoor Pursuits and more, Devan took a job at Lockheed, where her passion for sustainability and a well-rounded life in Upstate NY collided.
Sustainability has been a way of life since day one. My parents run a small construction firm focused on unique projects such as renovating historic homes, something I consider the ultimate recycling project. I grew up in a passive house, an intentional design that limits the need for space heating and/or cooling. A solar thermal and solar photovoltaic system took care of the remaining energy requirements. Before I could drive, I got around via bicycle, one of the most efficient forms of transportation. In high school, I initiated a recycling program in my hometown and the local New York State Park. From there, my passion snowballed, and I chose Binghamton primarily because of the Sustainable Engineering Minor which had just materialized. Throughout college, I nailed down a few internships in the field, including as an energy efficiency consultant at a nuclear power plant, and I was sold.
Yes and no. Yes, the Watson School challenged me immensely, sharpening up my technical prowess and contributing to my passing of the EIT/FE Exam, a prerequisite for the Professional Engineer License. I will never forget the real-world assignments, like designing airplane landing-gear and a collapsible drum set that sent my head spinning in infinite directions, yet cultivated an internal sense of persistence and accomplishment, something I value highly today. Furthermore, I was able to live a multi-dimensional life at Binghamton University, like I continue to do today, and learned how to balance my schoolwork, musicianship (BU Harper Jazz Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble), teaching (TA for Music Recording, African Drumming, Freshman Engineering), the outdoors (Bike Share co-founder, Outdoor Pursuits employee, Outdoors Club member), and social life. It helped that I lived on campus all four years, to optimize time! With that being said, it's hard to prepare for the corporate workforce without going through the motions yourself. I was fortunate to spend a rotation at the Lockheed Martin Headquarters, where I learned how a corporation functions - it's a giant system of systems, a team of teams, made up of tens of thousands of contributors. It's been a rewarding journey to create a niche for myself -- a big fish in a big pond.
I've had so many influences, from family to colleagues, that it would be nearly impossible to pinpoint a single person. I've been fortunate enough to keep in contact with a handful of mentors within and outside of my industry. Find somebody you trust, who you can count on when you need to make a difficult decision on a dime, ask for advice or need a shoulder to lean on. Often, the mentor and mentee alike benefit from these actions, creating a two-way street.
Don't be afraid to look for unconventional opportunities to apply yourself. For example, I never thought I would end up working for Lockheed Martin, the world's largest aerospace and defense contractor. Eventually, however, I realized that because this industry has such energy-intensive operations, it's one of the greatest arenas for sustainable energy deployment and resource conservation. And at the rate that society is growing as a population and as consumers, all industries have a role to play. Go find your niche and open those doors, even if they don't seem obvious at first.
In my mind, if you can turn a mistake into an opportunity, it's no longer a mistake. For example, humans are wired with certain traits. Some of us are impatient, others are perfectionists. We must continuously practice self-awareness in order to effectively react to certain situations. Personally, I may get excited when a new, shiny assignment lands on my plate. It's easy to get distracted, drop everything and run with it. I'm constantly learning how to better practice prioritization and time-management, especially in this day in age, where the workday is often filled with constant chatter from emails, phone calls, instant messages and meetings. In that sense, even though my student ID may have expired, I'll always consider myself a student: a student of life!
Carolyn Bernardo is the advancement communications manager at Binghamton University. As a Binghamton native, she is passionate about the area and about the University.
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