Sara Schnadt is an artist, UX designer and software systems architect. She has been working since 2004 overseeing and designing for large-scale civic data projects alongside her installation art practice. At NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory she is Senior Lead Designer for the Europa Clipper mission, responsible for software human interface design and system architecture for machine learning for science. Before JPL, Sara built the first design team at Planet Labs, an aerospace startup that is imaging the entire earth every day in order to monitor climate change and other planet-scale dynamics in real time. She has also worked at Anaconda researching and designing solutions for a data visualization authoring tool for scientific big data analytics. Other projects include Census Reporter, a data vis interface and exploration tool to help journalists incorporate census data in their work, and OpenElections, an election data access project.

Sara's art practice is informed by her work in civic technology infrastructure development, which is an ongoing research resource, and drives her interest in the cultural impacts of technology innovation. Sara’s installation art has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues such as MCA Chicago, Perform Chinatown, LA, MOCAD Detroit, Free Manifesta, and the Busan Biennial.
How Designing Space Missions Is Like Creating Installation Art

Engaging with the unknown and creating something new through radical translation and deep inventiveness... Sarah could be talking about installation art. She could also be talking about designing missions to deep space. In fact, she's talking about both. As an artist working at JPL, she's discovered that the creative processes for these activities are uncannily similar, and that her artistic skill set is her greatest resource here. Yes, working at NASA involves learning a lot of technical complexity, and collaborating with brilliant people in a range of fields. But, if you treat it all as creative research and interdisciplinary collaboration, it is quite possible to be a full and dynamic contributor to designing a new mission, as an artist. For this talk, Sarah will trace through the creative processes for making a new installation and a new mission: their challenges; opportunities; generative strategies; and generally, the beautiful continuity between the work she does in art and in science and engineering.