Local non-profit makes sustainable impact

The logo for the Ray, an Atlanta-based nonprofit company that focuses on creating zero death, zero waste and zero carbon highways. The company is named after a Tech alumni, Ray C. Anderson, who on the football team. // Photo courtesy of theray.org

Though Tech is a specialized technical school, it continues to nurture the versatility and well-roundedness of its students and encourages us to make an impact where we work.

When two very different Georgia Tech students happened to take on the same intern position at The Ray, we were shown just how important it is to share our skills from different backgrounds. And we knew each other too!
The Ray is an Atlanta-based nonprofit focused on creating zero death, zero waste and zero carbon highways.

They pilot sustainable technologies on an 18 mile stretch of I-85 at the Georgia-Alabama border.

Named after a Tech graduate and football player under Bobby Dodd, Ray C. Anderson, The Ray emphasizes sustainability through small efforts that lead to industrial impacts.

At just five years old, The Ray has tested twelve technologies, including the first solar road in the United States!

The results of these pilots and tested technologies are meant to be reused and recreated to increase the safety and sustainability of highways across the world.

Such a small organization is making a worldwide impact – and from an all women team!

The President and Founder Harriet Langford (daughter of Ray C. Anderson) and Executive Director Allie Kelly look to interns each year to contribute and grow The Ray.

In a hassle to find a summer internship last year, I was notified about the Technology Evaluation Intern position at The Ray and quickly applied.

As a Literature, Media, and Communication student at Tech, I enjoy working at the intersection of technology and the arts in positions like technical writer and sustainability.

The position at The Ray allowed me to work very closely with the Director of External Relations to develop the intern role at such a young organization.

We fleshed out the best way for me to present my technology evaluations and research to the team, and produced blog posts so that such exciting and innovative information could be shared on their platforms and discussed further.

Because The Ray is constantly piloting new technologies and partnering with others, they are always in conversation with businesses, governments, even individuals that have ideas for new things The Ray should try.

That’s where we focused the efforts of the Technology Evaluation intern.

With so much potential and so many ideas out there, The Ray needed someone to sift through and research each idea through the lens of The Ray’s values and current plausibility. I came to The Ray with a very different background. As an industrial engineer, a summer internship requiring a great deal of writing wasn’t on my radar.

However, I was really drawn to the bold mission of The Ray and its dedication to sustainable innovation.

When I started as the Technology Evaluation Intern in Summer 2020, the role was pretty established – I was evaluating all kinds of technologies and creating blog posts so The Ray’s readers could learn more.

As the summer progressed, The Ray started receiving an unprecedented amount of technology recommendations.

This growth gave me the opportunity to use my engineering knowledge to create a more objective and comparative evaluation process to improve the quality of the intern’s recommendations.

Working at The Ray was out of my comfort zone, but I learned so much from the experience. I enjoyed stimulating my creativity and working in an industry I am passionate about.

My favorite part about working for The Ray is that I was able to create an impact bigger than myself.

Looking to you — The Ray looks for anyone who wants to make an impact through innovation on transportation, safety, or more generally, sustainability.

If you are an engineer, entrepreneur, researcher, writer (like me!), or even someone who enjoys learning and reading about sustainable innovation, we need your ideas to rethink our roadways.

Tech students are some of the best and brightest, and we are surrounded by a culture of innovation. If you have an idea that you think will broaden The Ray’s impact, go to their Suggest a Tech page and fill out the form!

Or if you’d like to volunteer with The Ray you can contact them at [email protected].