Spotlight: Sunny Washington

Sunny Washington

CEO, Ardusat – Salt Lake City, UT

Experimenting with outer space just became a whole lot easier with the Ardusat Space Kit. At the center of this awesome company is their CEO, Sunny Washington. She sat down with Evolvher to talk about how graduating from Brigham Young University with a B.S in Sociology, running her own bank branch, growing a company from 7 people to 500, and more have all helped give her the experience she needed to lead the Ardusat team. Keep reading to learn more about her journey, how her company is changing how students learn about STEM, and how to help get Ardusat into your school.

On Why She Choose To Lead This Startup

I never imagined doing my own startup. Based on my previous work experience I did know that I liked working with a small team, because it’s in those teams that you really get to know who you’re working with. Everyone’s contribution can be felt on a very detailed level. Every day it was an all hands on deck situation and after working at a larger company I wanted to go back to that.

What I did have to figure out was if I wanted to stay in tech or if I wanted to try a different industry. I did quite a bit of soul searching and thought to myself could I be excited about building something like a consumer app, and realized that no that’s not what I would personally find fulfilling.

It was around that time that I was contacted by Spire Global and they wanted to spin out an educational company that used their satellites to inspire students in STEM.. Now I have never worked in the space industry and never had imaged that I would, but I thought to myself that I had to do this. To me there was no downside to joining this startup. It may have seemed super risky, but I could really get behind what they were trying to accomplish.

On Why She’s Excited About Ardusat

The thing is we don’t have enough students graduating in STEM even if this is the STEM generation. We’re lacking enough students with those degrees.

I personally have a nine year old daughter and was sad to find out that she was learning math the same way that I did when I was in school. There are so many new tools available to students but not necessarily in the classroom.

The reason that we’re building out this technology is because I’m doing it for my daughter, for the kids in the neighborhood, for the kids in this generation. The great thing about this job is that I have the best customers, teachers. They are all about self-sacrifice and give so much to their students.

Testing high-altitude balloons out in the field. 

Testing high-altitude balloons out in the field. 

What I Would Have Told My High School Self

I wish so badly that I would have had the confidence I now have back then.

Many girls don’t pursue STEM degrees because they think that they’re not good at math. My daughter told me once that she wasn’t good at math and I asked her why and it was because she heard it. Girls just hear those type of things more often. I question my daughter when I hear her say stuff like that.

We need to break down those stereotypes and that why I wish I would have focused more on my effort and didn’t care what others thought.

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On The Different STEM Jobs At Ardusat

The great thing about working at a startup like Ardusat is it allows for a lot of experimentation. People who work here get to see what sticks and what works. If they find something that works then they can grow it.

One job that’s really cool here is being an Instructional Designer. They help make experiment ideas for teachers to do in the classroom. Some of those experiments include measuring the UV strength of sunglasses, creating your own electromagnet, and so many other things. They provide teachers with ideas of experiments that they can run in the classroom.

We also have college and high school internships available as well. We currently have two high-school girls helping us build experiments and product like our DemoSat, which is a 3D printed satellite replica.

The Ardusat Space Kit

How To Get Ardusat

We’re selling primarily to schools because we want to capture ALL kids early on. Ardusat could definitely be a consumer type product, but with a consumer product you’re selling towards the parents that care and parents that have money. For us if we really want to make an impact with STEM it needs to be taught to all kids.

There are plenty of opportunities to learn about STEM nowadays, but it’s just not translated into the schools. Our system needs some help. We have so many teachers that aren’t exposed to these opportunities, and that’s what we want to change.

The great thing is that we’re currently working with 100 schools and some are in different countries.

Interested in getting Ardusat into your school? Share Ardusat with your teachers, friends and family by visiting here.

Images provided by Ardusat