DAVIS (CBS13) — She’s the best of the best at UC Davis, and her future is literally out of this world.

Ashley Coates, 22, is not only graduating with a double major in a field dominated by men, she’s doing it at the top of her class.

Coates has proven she’s an important cog in any engineering team.

“We have right now about 800 undergraduate students in mechanical and aerospace engineering, in the department. and I think Ashley is the top student,” said UC Davis Professor Case Van Dam.

Van Dam says not only is Coates the best in her department, her 4.0 GPA and extracurriculars have won her the medal for excellence—the award given to the top graduating senior on the entire UC Davis campus.

After Sunday’s graduation, she’s off to Johnson Space Center in Houston for a paid internship with NASA.

“We’ll be doing different simulations of aircraft and spacecraft, and looking at fluid flow over different bodies,” she said.

Always a fan of math, she says her passion for aerospace and mechanical engineering came from a family trip in high school.

“We visited the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and I fell in love with everything there,” she said.

She knows she’s outnumbered by men in this field, but says she’s felt excluded, and is proud to set an example.

“That’s something that’s really important to me, is to show these girls that you can still be popular and still be doing really cool things, but be excelling in school also in something that you find interesting,” she said

The only thing standing in her way is her final report, yet to be graded by Van Dam.

“I could give her the only A- or B+ in her career at UC Davis, the professor laughed.

Coates will begin graduate studies at Stanford in the fall where she was awarded a fully paid fellowship. She says she wants to work at NASA again and eventually become a professor.


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