Outstanding Graduate, Spring 2023
Michelle Houchins was inspired to pursue a degree in computer science because of her dad, who has worked with computers all of his life.
“One thing I love about coding is that for any problem, there are an infinite number of solutions,” she says. “It’s the perfect balance of creativity and logic: No one program looks alike, yet code will either work or it will not.”
Houchins pursued her degree in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University and says that being around other women in engineering also inspired her.
“My first year, I attended the Grace Hopper Celebration, the largest conference for women in computing,” Houchins says. “Being among so many brilliant, like-minded women with a passion for computer science and bettering the world helped me know I was on the right path.”
During her time at ASU, Houchins was heavily involved in extracurricular activities. She served as the project lead and K-12 outreach coordinator for Next Level Devils, an aerospace project-based club that participates in NASA design challenges; a member and former director of internal programming for Phi Sigma Rho, a social sorority for women in engineering; a member of Science Detectives, an education science program for elementary school students; and a C2 counselor at E2, where she led and mentored first-year students.
One of her proudest achievements was traveling to Houston with Next Level Devils to participate in NASA’s Micro-g NExT challenge, in which undergraduate students design, build and test a tool to address space exploration challenges.
“NASA requested to display our device, a lunar sample marker for astronauts to deploy during extravehicular activities on the upcoming Artemis missions, in the Artemis exhibit at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center,” she says, proudly.
Houchins also served as the project lead on a 10-person team competing in the NASA SUITS Challenge, a Russian tutor for the School of International Letters and Cultures and an Engineering Futures mentor, which she deems her most rewarding experience.
After graduation, Houchins will join Iridium as an engineer in its Orbital Program. In the future, she hopes to become a leader of an organization working to make STEM and technology accessible to girls of all backgrounds.
“Everyone deserves to find and pursue their passion,” she says. “Girls who dream of building rockets, designing airplanes or curing cancer deserve to make those dreams a reality.”