Sabrina Thompson: Combining Art in the Busy Career of a NASA Engineer
“When I was growing up,” says NASA aerospace engineer Sabrina Thompson, “I thought I was going to be a famous artist –either that or a basketball player. To me, that was the fun stuff.” While she was good at math and physics, she was torn between pursuing the arduous path of STEM. But ironically, as she says in a feature interview with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight website, “What ended up happening was my art teacher suggested engineering, and I pursued it.” However, she never forgot about art.
Currently at NASA, where she is a Navigation and Mission Design Engineer at Goddard, Sabrina is helping to spearhead NASA’s ambitious SmallSat project. “SmallSats are tiny satellites used for space research,” she explains, “and I’m designing trajectories to place and keep these SmallSats in orbit so that scientists can collect their data.”
But despite her busy professional schedule she never lost her passion for art and has managed to incorporate it, as well as photography, as an avid hobby. Dubbing herself the “Artsy Engineer,” Sabrina has also started a personal business that merges art and STEM with the goal of inspiring girls, especially those who are African-American, by showing them STEM through art in paintings or hands-on activities. In addition, she is writing a book aimed at middle school-aged girls.
She holds a Master’s of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor’s of Engineering degree from Stony Brook University. She is currently in graduate school at UMBC pursuing a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Physics.
For more information please visit https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/sabrina-thompson-balancing-art-and-engineering