Two Aerospace alumnae got the chance for a reunion in Washington DC recently. For friends Sydney Hamilton ‘13 and Jasmine Sadler ‘09, this was no ordinary gathering, rather a chance to participate in events surrounding a Smithsonian exhibit in which they are featured.
Celebrating Women Futures Month, the Smithsonian exhibit #IfThenSheCan consists of 120 3D printed life size statues of a diverse coalition of contemporary women STEM innovators and role models who are leaders in their fields. Sadler and Hamilton are two of the women advancing aerospace and STEM opportunities for middle school students through their role as AAAS IF/THEN Ambassadors.
From her experience in energy and manufacturing to founding her own company, Sadler has continually pushed creativity, inclusivity, and curiosity throughout her career. Starting as a software design engineer, test engineer, and quality engineer, Sadler often found herself the only woman engineer and the only Black engineer on her team. To create the change she wanted to see in engineering, this rocket scientist and ballerina founded the STEAM Collaborative, which focuses on managing programs and developing educational leaders on STEM from an artistic perspective.
She says, “Throughout my engineering studies and career I had to imagine what a successful engineer looked like, now I am that successful engineer others can see.”
She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership with the goal to own and run a STEAM University.
Space and Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) – 2021 Promise Award Winner, Sydney Hamilton, has been featured on CBS’ Mission Unstoppable, in Marie Claire Magazine, on NPR’s Wow in the World, and across the aerospace industry for her innovative contributions. Currently, Sydney is an Aerospace Structures Stress Manager that provides leadership for a team of incredible analysis engineers who support space and aircraft programs. Knowing the diversity of experiences enriches the team’s work; she promotes inclusive and diverse engineering teams to solve formerly “impossible” problems. Hamilton is inspired by what and how our youth are doing and loves serving as the representation they may not have otherwise.
“I hope that our statues send a message that if she can see it, then she can be it,” Hamilton said, “I hope that they can see themselves in at least one of these statues.”
This Smithsonian exhibit is the highlight of the many programs celebrating Women’s Futures Month. Planned programs range from exploring the creation of groundbreaking inventions to highlighting futuristic innovation and creativity to a performance art exchange to reimagine our shared futures.
Being featured in the exhibit was a gratifying experience for both engineers. Sadler comments, “As a STEAM Educator, these life-size 3D printed statues are the best examples of applications in the real-world. They continue to break records and will forever be historical artifacts.”
Hamilton shared one last piece of advice, “the beautiful thing about STEM roles is that we are lifelong problem solvers, meaning you don’t have it all figured out today! Life is a journey! Explore, learn, ask questions, and enjoy every moment of it.” She hopes these statues encourage the next generation of STEM leaders to be curious about their futures and to know it’s not just the world that is your oyster; it’s the galaxy.
The statues, installed around the National Mall, are on exhibit through March 27. Visit Hamilton’s statue in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and visit Sadler’s statue in the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industry Building.
Hamilton and Sadler were joined at the Smithsonian by two other notable alums, Aisa Bowe ’08 ’09and Jasmine LeFlore ’15. All four participate in a number of programs, including the 2021 MLK event Overcoming Turbulence: Trials and Triumphs of Black Women in Aero.