Josh Ingersoll, MSAE '19 Urges His Fellow Grads to Bridge the Worlds of Numbers and Meaning

Josh Ingersoll, MSAE '19 Urges His Fellow Grads to Bridge the Worlds of Numbers and Meaning

John Ingersoll (MSAE '19) addresses his fellow Master's students as the Reflection Speaker during the 2019 December commencement ceremony.
One last assignment. Josh Ingersoll delivers the 2019 Student Reflection Speech to his fellow classmates at the Georgia Tech Master's commencement ceremony. 

On December 13, Josh Ingersoll, BSAE '18, MSAE '19, took on his final assignment as a part of Georgia Tech's Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering: giving the Graduate Reflections Talk before an audience of his peers from across the Institute.

In some ways, it was a speech he'd been preparing since before he stepped foot on campus.

Josh Ingersoll and his dog Scout
Josh Ingersoll, BSAE '18, MSAE '19
Scout, ABD

"I remember on January fourth, 2014 I purposely slept in as long as I could to avoid having to be awake waiting for my admission decision from Tech," he recalls. 

"When the email finally came I ran out of my room jumping up and down screaming. AE at Tech was always my number one choice and my dream school since I started my college search two years earlier. I put down my deposit just two hours after being accepted. If I had known what the coming years would have in store for me I wouldn’t even have waited that long! "

Nearly six years later, he was just as enthusiastic about preparing his final address -- given without notes, teleprompter, or reserve.

"Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to do something during my time at Tech. I’ve studied abroad, had numerous internships and even met Elon Musk but speaking before my fellow graduates takes the cake. I can’t picture a better way to top off my academic career at Georgia Tech. To say I feel honored would be the understatement of the year. I especially excited to be speaking at President Cabrera’s first set of commencement ceremonies."

To prepare material for his speech Josh applied a numerical analysis to his 5+ year journey through Georgia Tech.The result was a commencement talk that created an artful bridge between the numerical perspective of the average student engineer and, well, the rest of the world:

The human brain is absolutely terrible at comprehending large numbers.

When I say that there are approximately 602 sextillion atoms in one Mole of Oxygen or that the Sun is 149.6 billion meters away from Earth (on average) the mind simply can’t visualize these values.The same can be said for the following statement: “I spent 3.1 million minutes of my life working towards my degree from Georgia Tech.”


Thankfully, it is for this same reason that reflecting on days like today is so important.

Commencement is the first day when we can finally say “We got out!” but what did it really take each of us to make it to McCamish Pavilion today?

When I looked back on my time at Georgia Tech to write this speech, so many memories, good and bad, came rushing back.

There were so many challenges that I overcame and opportunities that Tech gave me.

There were so many memories that they all started to blur together in to one big buzzing incomprehensible white and gold blur.

So in order to more effectively reflect on our time here in Atlanta and really appreciate the accomplishment that today represents I did what any good Tech student would do; I made an Excel spreadsheet. 

After combing through 6 years of T-Square and Canvas data my 3.1 million minutes boiled down to the following: • 429 homework assignments completed to varying degrees of success • 23 different presentations given • 1765 lectures attended... I’M SORRY 1765 lectures that should have been attended • 92 tests taken and <92 tests passed • 80 lab reports completed after midnight • 36 finals taken and >36 pots of coffee brewed • And in the end, 1 ‘helluva degree received If these numbers sound like a lot that’s because they are.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been here for more years than you’d like to count or if you are an OMS student and it’s your first day on campus; getting to the chair you are sitting in now is no small feat and has taken more work than your friends and family will ever know.

Georgia Tech has provided us with one of the most rigorous educations in the nation and today I can say with confidence that we are prepared to go out into the world with the same tenacity and passion to create change that only comes from earning a degree from this great Institute.

No matter what your next step is, to enter industry, pursue a career in research, or if you’re crazy enough to stick around here for another degree; I ask you now to take a minute before you cross this stage to reflect on all of the challenges big and small that you faced and conquered here at Tech. I wouldn’t be surprised if you needed a spreadsheet too.

Congratulations Class of 2019!

Josh Ingersoll and his fiancee
Ready for the Next...Adventure
Josh Ingersoll with his fiancee Jacquie

After graduation, Ingersoll, his fiancée Jacquie, and their dog Scout will move to northern Virginia, where he

will work as a spacecraft systems engineer at the Aerospace Corporation. He won’t be attending Jacquie’s graduation from the University of Georgia with a master’s in special education, though, because it’s happening on the same day — and at the same time — as his. But with the pragmatism you might expect from an engineer, he views it as a simple, unchangeable fact moving forward, when “the Saturday after Thanksgiving will always leave our house divided.”

Find out about the other commencement speakers.


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