Ajasia Harris graduated in May 2022. By July she had a full-time job.
After earning a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga—the first Howard School graduate ever to earn a degree in that subject—Harris was hired pretty much instantly by General Motors and now lives in Michigan.
“Why engineering? Every day with engineering there’s a challenge and that excites me. I love a good challenge,” she said.
“Also the diversity. No matter which path you take in engineering, there’s an opportunity to cross-train and gain knowledge in another area.”
At GM, she’s an employee with a long title in a department with a long name: Process Controls TRACK Engineer for the Global Propulsion Systems Manufacturing Engineering Department. TRACK stands for Technical Rotation and Career Knowledge.
“I get my feet wet in four different areas,” she says, explaining her job in non-technological language. “Every six months I switch off into a new position to learn different things and just get acquainted with where I could possibly be in my future. Where I would love to end up.”
Currently, she’s a process controls engineer, working on systems such electronic maintenance and dashboard technology for electric vehicles.
Valedictorian of the 2016 class at Howard, Harris was majoring in interior architecture when she first enrolled at UTC, but soon switched to engineering. Some of the concepts and software used in interior architecture also are used in engineering, she explained.
Electrical engineering fits her ultimate goals.
“I always said I wanted to be a mastermind behind some new technology,” she said with a laugh. “So I thought, ‘Well, if I did choose the engineering, it’ll probably be more for the electronic side of it. Something that has to do with electricity, electric components, controls, designing something on that level, like the inside of a device.”
Once enrolled in the electrical engineering program, she landed three different internships—TVA, Denso Manufacturing and Lockheed Martin. In each, she worked in some area of electrical engineering.
With her impressive credentials, her internship with Denso came after the College of Engineering and Computer Science’s Career Fair in the fall of 2019.
“I ended up doing the interview for them the very next day after the career fair,” she recalled.
She interned at the company, which makes automotive parts, for a year.
“That’s how I got into the automotive aspect of things,” she said.