deja robinson

Operation Planet

Four degrees. Three Colleges. Two states. One goal.

For Deja Robinson ’16, spring 2020 has been a long time coming. Her journey started as a high school senior at Elmira High School in 2014 when she decided to enroll in the BOCES Engineering Immersion program. The program allowed Deja to shadow local engineers and learn about the world of business. With stellar grades, she was accepted to SUNY CCC as a Presidential Scholar because she graduated in the top 10 percent of her class.

“It was easy to choose SUNY CCC after that,” said Deja. “I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when it came to funding, but being a Presidential Scholar made it simple. I was able to major in engineering science, take all of my introductory classes, and save money.”

And Deja was able to do more than just save money at SUNY CCC. She was the recipient of a NASA-funded independent research project. The project gave her the opportunity to build an optimal living space for her pet turtle, Cujo.

“The professors at SUNY CCC really encouraged me to apply for the space grant and I ended up winning, which was awesome,” said Deja. “I decided to focus on what pet stores didn’t offer for an adult turtle, and I performed research on proper filter systems, water temperatures, ceramic walls, and food.”

But the professors didn’t stop with research grant applications. The support went even further for Deja.

“I spent a lot of time with Deb Dudick, one of our engineering professors,” she said. “She was a successful female in engineering, and it was nice to see that because it showed me that I could do it too. If I ever got down, Deb would tell me that I deserved to be there.”

After she graduated from SUNY CCC, Deja enrolled at Clarkson University to major in engineering and management.

“Regarding academics, I honestly felt extremely prepared,” said Deja. “I had a solid baseline in engineering and I truly understood the concepts that were being discussed.”

Now, in her second year at Carnegie Mellon University, Deja is expected to graduate with two master’s degrees in May 2020. She is majoring in both engineering technology and innovation management and biomedical engineering. During her first year at Carnegie, Deja performed research in an orthopedic lab and enjoyed the idea of working on projects that could help others. Her goal is to become a product manager in the medical device field.

“What makes us human is that we can make tools and improve what already exists,” said Deja. “Whether my goal is to design a cane, or build an MRI machine, I could have the power to positively impact almost every person on the planet. I would love to build devices and equipment that could make someone’s quality of life better.”

As of now, Deja is looking forward to wrapping up with school and pursing new opportunities.

“I don’t know where I want to be, but I’m excited to see what is going to happen next,” she said. “I’m ready.”