Graphic design senior lands internship at space astronomy program
In June, Wichita State University senior Sara Crowdis will travel to Baltimore for an internship at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). But, Crowdis isn’t a science major; she will graduate with a graphic design degree.
Crowdis was accepted to the Space Astronomy Summer Program (SASP) at STScI for students interested in astronomy and science. Out of 200 national and international applicants, only about 20 were chosen. The internship runs from mid-June until mid-August.
“I positioned myself differently than all the other scientists and said I would balance the team out by bringing in a new perspective,” she said. “People must have been surprised when they saw my major.”
While at STScI, Crowdis will work in the Office of Public Outreach, where she will assist in producing “Science Year in Review,” a book that includes recent astronomy findings. She will also help employees with various Hubble projects.
“I don’t think it is common for graphic designers to apply,” said Crowdis. “All of the other interns are majoring in physics or astrophysics, and a few with computer science.”
STScI is located on the Johns Hopkins University campus and is a part of NASA’s Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA). The institute operates the science program for the Hubble Space Telescope and will conduct science and mission operations for the future James Webb Space Telescope. It also supports other astronomy programs and general scientific research.
An unexpected interest
Crowdis, who grew up in Douglass, Kan., said she will greatly benefit from being exposed to a new type of work setting and living in a different region of the United States for a couple of months.
“I like working with professionals in their environments and learning from those real-world experiences,” she said. “Plus, I will also be able to say I worked for NASA, and that seems pretty cool.”
Crowdis learned about SASP after taking a Digital Imaging for Astronomy pre-session class in the honors program with instructor Martin Ratcliffe. He encouraged Crowdis to apply after she expressed an interest in how photos are imaged for NASA.
“I only needed two credit hours, so it was going to fill an elective space,” she said. “I ended up really enjoying the class.”
After graduating from Wichita State this May, Crowdis will do advertising and design work full time for Fairbank Equipment in Wichita, a job she originally received through WSU’s Office of Cooperative Education and Work-Based Learning.