With NASA's final Space Shuttle launch scheduled for Friday, July 8, Drexel University's graphic design students have created a set of mission patches at the request of shuttle commander and Drexel mechanical engineering alumnus Christopher Ferguson, '84. The selected patches, Jen Choy's Spaceswan
and Jeremy Bloom's Waves,
will accompany Ferguson and the other astronauts into space.
The patch design project was an independent, non-credited assignment that a team of five upperclassmen students worked on in addition to their coursework, under the direction of Associate Teaching Professor Don Haring, Jr. and Graphic Design Program Director Jody Graff. In addition to Bloom and Choy, the other students that participated were: Cara Brobst, Herbie Hickmott and Evan Raisner.
A Philadelphia native, Ferguson, who has spent more than 28 days in space, piloted Atlantis on mission STS-115 in 2006 before commanding Endeavor on mission STS-126 in 2008, delivering a water recycling system, sleeping quarters, a kitchen, space commode, exercise equipment and a combustion science experiment to the International Space Station. He also served as lead spacecraft communicator for mission STS-118 by Endeavor in 2007.
In addition to receiving an honorary degree from Drexel in 2009, Ferguson was also the University's 2009 Engineer of the Year. He was selected to be an astronaut in 1998, the third Drexel alumnus to be chosen by NASA, following James P. Bagian '73 and Paul Richards '87.
Ferguson came to Drexel on March 16th to spend time with graphic design students, talking candidly about the U.S. space program, the role of mission patches and the end of the shuttle program.
"We were incredibly honored when shuttle commander Chris Ferguson first approached the Graphic Design program about designing a mission patch," said Haring Jr. "The students couldn't believe they had a chance to design for NASA, and I couldn't have been more excited to advise and help them, especially considering the importance of this last shuttle flight. It was an amazing opportunity for all of us, and as always, we're incredibly proud of creativity and skill nour students."
Ferguson is one of three Drexel alumni who pursued a career as a NASA astronaut. The other two are: Dr. James Bagian '73, director of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for Patient Safety, who had a 15-year tenure at NASA including two flights, in 1989 and 1991, and Paul Richards '87, observatory manager for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, who flew aboard a Discovery mission in 2001.
Drexel's award-winning graphic design program is part of the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. The program has won 136 industry awards since September 2009. In addition to an unprecedented number of wins for Drexel at the Creativity 41 Annual Awards and the 27th Annual American Graphic Design & Advertising Awards, the program also has had three students named "Students to Watch" by the prestigious USA Graphic Design magazine: Kathryn Hall and April Moralba in 2011, and Kat Madamba in 2010.