ISyE alumna Trisha Long (B.S. IE 2015) has interned for various utility companies and worked with a sustainability focus since she was at Georgia Tech. Currently, she applies her ISyE skills as a commodity leader for Upwind Solutions, a San Diego-based technology company that specializes in wind power services – from engineering to maintenance to parts servicing – a role she discusses in the following interview.
Why did you choose Georgia Tech for your college experience, and ISyE for your major?
I have always been a Jackets fan. My father and grandfather went to Georgia Tech, so the school was always on my radar. When I began researching degrees and careers in high school, industrial engineering seemed like a calling. The problems we solve can be applied to any business. I couldn’t have been more excited when I learned the best school for IE was Georgia Tech!
Starting with your undergraduate internships, you have gained extensive experience working for utilities of various types. What interests you so much about this sector?
We depend on electricity for so much. The balance between reliability and cost is key. I think the constant innovation attracted me to this field.
In addition to your internships with various utilities, were you involved in any other environmental or sustainability work while at Georgia Tech?
Early on in my undergraduate career, I joined the Georgia Tech Trailblazers. This club organizes outdoor service trips for students to national and local parks, offering students a great way to travel and explore while giving back to environment. I loved having a healthy outlet from school to take my mind off of my classes, and by my senior year at Tech I had become president of the club.
What would you say is the most important issue in terms of sustainability right now?
There are so many ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle: becoming politically involved in sustainability issues, eating less meat, creating less trash, biking instead of driving. I know firsthand how hard it is to understand what effects our actions have on the environment around us. If we dedicated more time to educating ourselves, I think we would be able to find a good balance with the environment.
Describe what you do as a commodity leader for Upwind Solutions.
At Upwind Solutions, I buy and sell spare parts for wind turbines all over the U.S. I work with Upwind’s suppliers to locally source parts, so I can provide them to my customers quickly and cheaply, and work with other engineers to develop solutions to increase turbine reliability and decrease downtime. This improves the value companies get from investing in wind power, making it a more attractive option.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I like getting to work with people in all different parts of the industry. I get to talk to everyone: wind technicians in the field, corporate buyers, transportation logistics people, and parts suppliers.
Share an anecdote that illustrates the importance of the work you’re doing.
When a turbine is down, money is being lost, so getting the necessary part to the wind site quickly is critical. It always feels good to hear that a part I sourced was able to get the turbine working again.
How does your ISyE background, and in particular your focus on supply chains, impact what you do at work?
Parts consumption forecasting is very important to my department, and lets us predict which parts to stock. My ISyE degree gave me the skills I need to forecast, source, and stock the parts that will help our customers the most.
You’re involved with the organization Women of Wind Energy. How do you participate in this organization, and why is it integral to what you’re currently doing?
I feel so lucky to work for a company with many intelligent, hardworking female role models in senior management, but historically, women have been underrepresented in the wind energy field. Women of Wind Energy hosts events that offer networking opportunities and encourage hiring and promotion of women in all sectors of the wind industry.
Where do you see yourself in three to five years?
As ecommerce takes off and we have more data, parts forecasting will improve significantly. I want to be the Amazon of spare turbine parts.
You’re originally from the Atlanta area. What was it like to move all the way across the country to San Diego?
I fell in love with San Diego after a visit during my junior year at Tech. I started to utilize my network to target jobs in San Diego, and it worked. After graduation, I had two weeks to pack up my apartment in Atlanta and drive to California with my sister before my new job started. It was the road trip of a lifetime. I am loving the West Coast.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love traveling, so on the weekends I explore the beaches, mountains, and deserts when I can. San Diego has an amazing zoo, so I spend a little too much time watching baby animals. To fill the void after leaving Trailblazers, I have joined a club called CropSwap that picks excess fruit from farms for food bank donation. And in the fall, I meet up with the San Diego Georgia Tech Alumni chapter to watch football games. Go Jackets!