Ashleigh N. Bunch

Ashleigh N. Bunch
B.S. AE '20

What is your next adventure?

I'm moving to Seattle, Washington to work for Honeywell Aerospace to work as a systems engineer focusing on human factors.

What about your next adventure are you most looking forward to?

Quite legitimately: I'm getting my dream job.

I worked in Seattle in 2019 and fell in love with the city. My whole vibe just fits with Seattle. I love the coffee. I love the thrift stores. It's just the right place for me.  And I'm so excited to get a job as a human factors engineer because I worked with Honeywell in this area before. They are an awesome company.

Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area?

I had two internships. In the summer of 2019, as a Brooke Owens Fellow, I worked in Seattle for Amazon Prime Air as a systems engineer. I had free range to try other things, though, and that's how I found my love of human factors engineering. When I returned from that fellowship, I worked hard to expand the Brooke Owens Fellowship so that more students from community colleges would know about it and be able to participate. This past summer, I had an internship with Honeywell Aerospace in Seattle, but, because of COVID, I worked remotely from Atlanta. This time I was officially a human factors engineer. I was looking specifically at the cockpit design, optimizing the interface that the pilot sees.

As far as research goes, I wasn't drawn to doing research until I got involved, this semester, with the FIDO Lab (Facilitating Interaction for Dogs with Occupations) which is run out of the College of Computing. I was focusing on the design of the user interface for touch screens.

How did your educational experience at Georgia Tech help you to achieve your goals?

Two things, definitely, stand out.

First, on the education front, Georgia Tech clearly gave me the best education I could have hoped for. I came in as a chemistry major, but halfway through my first year, I realized that was not me, so I started asking my friends what they were studying. One of them suggested I look into aerospace engineering, and it was perfect. In addition to earning my degree in aerospace engineering, I earned a minor in psychology. I loved the classes and they really applied to what I wanted to do. Psychology is so niche, but so necessary to human factors engineering.

The second thing I'd have to point out is the extra-curriculars. I've been super involved as a drum major in the Georgia Tech Marching Band. The support I had through that role allowed me to grow and to stand out as as a person. It's just so starkly different from the world of a typical AE student, and it was just what I needed. I didn't get involved in the Maker Space or the Design Build Fly or any of the typical AE clubs. Those are all great things, but for me exploring my interests outside of the AE School made me a more balanced person, more empathetic. It was one of my band friends who pointed me to the AE School when I wanted to change majors. And it was one of my band friends who pointed me to the Brooke Owens Fellowship. 

What advice would you give to an underclassman who would like to follow the same path?

In general, for any incoming freshman, I'd say: find something you are passionate about - whatever that may be -- and go for it. And especially for women: don't let anyone tell you to not do something. I had someone tell me that there aren't a lot of smart women in aerospace engineering. It was meant to discourage me, but I turned it around into a challenge: I was going to be the smartest woman in aerospace engineering and - more than that - I was going to uplift all the women I know to be the same. My friends are like me on that point: you 'd be lucky to hire any one of us.