Sabrina Thompson is a NASA engineer and the founder of the streetwear brand Girl in Space Club. She started the club as a way to get more women interested in STEM. Although the volume of women in science and mathematics has increased in the last few years, women are still underrepresented in STEM fields, particularly in space science.
According to the United Nations, the number of women in the international space industry has reduced by some 20 percent and only 11 percent of astronauts have so far been women. For Thompson, venturing into STEM was not part of her childhood ambitions. Her dream was to become an artist and a fashion designer. However, her ambition changed when it was time to decide on a college program during her senior year in high school.
“I was valedictorian of my class, yet everyone knew where they wanted to go to college except for me,” she told CNBC Make It. “My art teacher was the one who helped me out and suggested, ‘Why don’t you try engineering?'”
She eventually settled for engineering after concluding that it would be the ideal union between her love of art and her mathematical prowess, she told CNBC Make It. She went to Stony Brook for her first degree in engineering and continued to George Tech for a master’s degree in aerospace engineering.
In 2010, she joined NASA and has been with the institution for the past 12 years designing orbit trajectories for space missions. Despite her busy schedule, she still made time for her first love: art. The infusion of her love for arts and her knowledge of engineering led her to establish the Girl in Space Club with the goal of making STEM “fun and fashionable” for future generations.
Thompson and her team are designing a woman’s space travel suit. To raise funds for the project, she is currently speaking to investors and also hopes to raise $75,000 from a Kickstarter campaign launched in October.
Designing the space suit for women will be the club’s largest project. She and her team are at the moment also looking at what technologies to use to design their own pressurized space suit. They are also investigating how to create designs that can work with different launch vehicles.