DAHLGREN, Va. –
Growing up in a small town where STEM careers weren’t prevalent, Ashley Wilson’s early career goals were in education – she wanted to be an English teacher.
Fast forward to Sept. 2021, when Wilson, a Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) systems engineer for the Battle Management System program, received the Women of Color magazine Technology Rising Star Award.
The award is presented yearly for achievements in science, technology, engineering and math careers. It recognizes women with 14 or fewer years in the workforce helping to “shape technology for the future.” Wilson was nominated for her “demonstrated technical leadership and future potential for excellence, exemplified by her outstanding support of the Battle Management System Program at NSWCDD.”
Wilson’s personal motto to “always strive to see what’s next and how I can better myself” led her to apply to the Science and Engineering Apprentice Program through the Office of Naval Research during high school. After being accepted into the program, she discovered her passion for STEM. Wilson then participated in the Student Career Experience Program through NSWCDD, which funded part of her education in exchange for three years of employment after graduation.
She graduated from the University of Virginia in 2014 with a degree in mechanical engineering, and later earned a master’s degree in systems engineering from Old Dominion University. After her three-year employment repayment, she chose to stay and build her career at NSWCDD. “At the end of three years, I could choose to go anywhere I wanted to but I chose to stay at Dahlgren. Since then, I’ve worked in a few departments. I really enjoy what I’m doing.”
Receiving this award “is a testament to my personal growth, and it’s pushing me to go even further and see what other goals I can achieve for myself,” Wilson said.