National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Ashley Micks

Ashley MicksMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA

Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Theater
Bachelor of Science, June 2009

NASA Academy Research Project

Genetic Algorithm Optimization of Inlet Geometry for a Hypersonic Jet Engine
NASA Principal Investigator: Meng-Sing Liou


I grew up in suburban Columbus, Ohio and went to high school at Worthington Kilbourne, a public school that fortunately had plenty of AP classes. For college, my main choices were Ohio State, MIT, and Case Western. I chose MIT to get away from home for a while. I’d also heard MIT had a top-notch aerospace department and a pretty nice theater program as well. I’ll be a junior there in the fall.


In high school, I spent two years in COSI Academy, where teams of students met monthly (and as needed on the side) to work with mentors from industry on various science and engineering projects. My mentor was from Battelle both years. The first year’s project was an autonomous robot to detect underground drums of toxic waste, and the second year’s was a remotely operated submarine to compete in the MATE ROV competition in California. We won the Guts and Glory award for pulling everything together after some on-the-fly leak repairs.

I’ve spent years volunteering at the Northwest Worthington Library, serving on the Guidance and Advisory Board (GAB) that planned events for teens, helping run children’s programs, and writing scripts for and acting in Reader’s Theater performances.

This past January, I got to work with the MIT Space Systems Lab to put together a presentation video summarizing the results of the SPHERES tests on the space station. SPHERES are basketball-sized autonomous satellites that hold position, navigate, fly in formation, and dock to each other. I created 3D visualizations in MatLab from their telemetry data so that I could have side-by-side video of where the satellites where versus where they thought they were. I also went through hours of data to edit together, script, and narrate an engaging and informative five-minute video. I now have Final Cut on my laptop and I didn’t have to pay for it, courtesy of the Space Systems Lab.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Theater would be the big one, except that for me it’s completely curricular. I do more writing and directing than acting, and my Theater thesis looks like it’ll be writing and directing my own full-length play. The script is already in progress-it’s science fiction, but I’ll be able to do it with five people and a minimal budget.

Other than that, my hobbies include drawing cartoons in Photoshop, singing in the shower, climbing trees, sneaking into places where I’m not really supposed to be, telling tales of my bizarre yet nonexistent love life, and having long, angsty crushes on guys who do musical theater.