School of Art & Art History student illustrates children’s book for NASA
Growing up near Kennedy Space Station, Andrea Coloma always dreamed of working for NASA one day – not as an engineer or astronaut – but as a graphic designer. Fast forward to today, she just finished illustrating an educational children’s book for NASA’s Space Communication and Navigation program (SCaN), thanks in part to a series of internships with NASA.
Created during her fifth and final internship, the children’s book highlights SCaN’s role in the recent Artemis I mission, which successfully splashed down to Earth on Dec. 11. The imagery is not approved for release, but NASA plans to publish the book this year.
As a second-generation immigrant from Ecuador, Coloma was nervous to tell her parents about her desire to pursue a career in art because of the stereotype that it is not financially stable. “I felt like I needed proof that I could do it, so I went on LinkedIn and started messaging graphic designers from companies that I admired,” Coloma said.
Molly Kearns, digital media specialist for SCaN at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, responded to the message and organized a meeting between Coloma and a couple of graphic designers at NASA. The conversation led to Coloma being offered a SCaN Internship Project shadowing position on the Policy and Strategic Communications team where she spent the summer creating an illustration spread for its newsletter. “This was my first dip into the professional world of design, and I learned so much throughout this experience,” Coloma said.
The experience at NASA was proof enough of a successful career as an artist for Coloma because she promptly enrolled in the graphic arts program on the USF St. Petersburg campus in the fall of 2021. Coloma’s relationship with NASA continued with a virtual animation internship on the Orion Communications team at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “This internship was a great challenge because I had not animated before,” Coloma said. “I used the two days before my interview for the position to learn how to animate and show that I had the potential to learn.”
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