Dec 7, 2018, 3:38 PM EDT
This feature appears in the Notre Dame-Syracuse Shamrock Series Game Day Magazine.
Ashley Armstrong was a three-time Academic All-American for the Fighting Irish women’s golf program, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Armstrong graduated from Notre Dame’s College of Engineering with a degree in mechanical engineering. She currently is pursuing a graduate degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois. Armstrong, a three-time team captain, was the recipient of the Monogram Club postgraduate scholarship in 2015.
On the course, Armstrong helped the Irish to four NCAA Regional appearances and the 2013 BIG EAST Conference title. She captured medalist honors three times during her career, including the 2012 BIG EAST Championship.
Why did you choose Notre Dame?
“My dad went to law school at Notre Dame so I grew up a Notre Dame fan and went to football games. I think I was a Notre Dame cheerleader for Halloween a minimum of five times growing up. So, Notre Dame has always been a part of my family. However, I knew in high school I didn’t want to restrict myself to just Notre Dame during the recruitment process. I looked all over and it was really hard to find something that compared not only to Notre Dame’s culture, but to Notre Dame standards and what they expect from a student-athlete and themselves in terms of providing for – and supporting – student-athletes. It was unmatched when looking across different universities.
“Also, I knew I wanted to major in engineering and as a student-athlete that’s a little bit challenging due to a lot of lab time and course-restricted schedules. A lot of universities I visited during the recruitment process weren’t fond of the idea of me doing engineering and golf. The coaches at Notre Dame said they would fully support me and help me succeed in whatever major I chose. I really appreciated that.”
What are some of your favorite memories from your time at Notre Dame?
“During Masters week, my teammates and I would camp out at the golf facility. We’d get food and do our homework and enjoy watching the Masters. There are also a lot of fun memories from traveling with the team. Granted, there was a lot of studying while traveling, but we’d still make time to watch Notre Dame games in our hotel rooms and try to enjoy the surrounding areas of the tournaments. My parents were fortunate enough to attend most of my tournaments. I really enjoyed spending time with them, and letting them enjoy the process as well since they did so much for me growing up and helping me get to that position.
“I also was very fortunate to have lived in Pasquerilla East and met an incredible group of young women. My time in Pasquerilla East was a ton of fun. One of the best memories not on the golf course was attending the (football) national championship game in Miami during my sophomore year (in 2012). That was a really fun trip.”
What do you remember about earning your first Monogram and attending the Monogram Jacket Ceremony?
“I remember that night well and sharing it with my teammate, Kelli Oride. When I received the jacket, it was a feeling of, ‘I made it’, and I knew it was something that will last for the rest of my life. I felt very fortunate to have joined such a supporting community and it’s comforting to know that community will be there throughout my life. That’s just so unique. At Notre Dame, the support on both the academic side and the athletic side is unmatched after graduation as well.”
What do you miss most about no longer being a Notre Dame student-athlete?
“My teammates. I miss living the experiences with them. We all learned a lot along the way, developed together, went through really good times and really bad times together. I miss living the grind with them, but I know I’ll keep their friendships for the rest of my life.”
What are you currently working on in graduate school?
“I’m bridging two fields in my graduate studies. I have two advisors; one advisor is in biomechanics and the other is in control theory, which is basically applied math. I want to be able to leverage my experience with both of these fields in the future when I start my own research lab. I want to be a faculty member because I really enjoy research, having intellectual freedom to be able to solve real-world problems, and mentoring and working with students in the classroom and in my lab.
“My advisor in biomechanics is studying bone regeneration through the fabrication of bone scaffolds, which are bone replacement materials that can encourage complete bone regeneration inside defects. The way that this is connected with my advisor in control theory is that we 3D print these bone scaffolds. On the controls side, we have to make sure the 3D printing process is as accurate as possible through sensing strategies and control algorithms. Our goal is to fabricate really advanced bone scaffolds with curvilinear features to encourage complete bone regeneration.”