Meet trailblazer Donna Auguste. Read about her journey, a few fun facts about Donna and the advice she offers to others considering a career in the industry.
Donna Auguste, PhD, is a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder (PhD), Regis University (MS) and the University of California at Berkeley (BS). She has had a lengthy career as an engineer, data scientist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, and is now founder and CEO of Auguste Research Group in Oceanside, California. Auguste Research Group conducts research involving sensors and actionable data, and advocates for diversity in STEM.
Dr. Auguste began working with drones as mobile sensor platforms, collecting and analyzing aerial datasets, and developing tools using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques. She recognized that piloting drones and working with aerial data could be an accessible entry point into aviation industries for people within diverse communities that are underrepresented in aviation today. Specifically, Dr. Auguste is focused on Black, Hispanic/Latin, Indigenous, and Deaf communities. With her team at Auguste Research Group, Dr. Auguste is designing career training resources for teens and young adults, within those communities, who are excited about piloting drones, collecting data, and making meaning from that data.
In 2001, Dr. Auguste founded the Leave a Little Room Foundation, a non-profit organization that helped to provide housing, schools, electricity, and medical care in impoverished communities around the world for more than ten years. Earlier in her career, Dr. Auguste was the co-founder of Freshwater Software, a successful startup company that provided web server management tools for systems administrators. Before that, she was a senior engineering manager at Apple Computer where she led the software engineering team that developed the innovative Apple Newton personal digital assistant.
When she’s not nerding out with sensor technology, Dr. Auguste enjoys being a musician (bass guitar and piano, primarily Gospel music), riding bikes, reading much sci-fi, and especially spending time with her family.
Two fun facts about yourself:
I love to do logic puzzles. They’re exciting and relaxing at the same time!
I have two wonderful grandchildren who teach me all about emerging consumer technologies.
What’s your “dream job” in aviation?
My dream job in aviation would be to iteratively co-develop software for augmented reality “glasses” that can overlay and interpret aerial data, and that can interactively ask/answer/investigate questions about the data in ways that are culturally responsive.
What’s a favorite book and movie you recommend to others?
Favorite book: “Dreamsnake” by Vonda N. McIntyre
Favorite movie: “Lilies of the Field” starring Sidney Poitier
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in this industry?
Do the activities that bring you both challenges and joy. Do those activities thoroughly. Learn all about them and teach others about them. Be grateful for your opportunities in this one chapter in your life. In time, you will turn the page to a new chapter, and find different activities that bring you challenges and joy. Then do those.