Laura Crabtree `00 | Space Architect / Astronaut Trainer
When Laura Crabtree ’00 was eight years old, she proudly told her mom that when she grew up, she wanted to be a space architect—she literally wanted to design and build houses for space. Her mom chuckled and replied, “You can grow up to be whatever you want to be, Laura.”
It turns out that Laura’s foresight was spot-on: at Parker, she had a reputation for pushing herself intellectually and academically, taking as many AP courses as possible. “I really liked hard classes—ones where I got to experiment and develop my own way of thinking about the subject,” she said. Prior to graduating, Laura worked with her college counselor at Parker to figure out how to stay on her ambitious track. “I told my counselor that I loved space, and that I wanted to pick the hardest major I could think of.” When her counselor advised her to consider Astronautical Engineering at the University of Southern California, Laura jumped at the idea. “I’ve never shied away from a challenge,” she said.
Today, Laura works for SpaceX as their Senior Space Operations Engineer, developing the training and operations for the astronaut crew as they make their way to the International Space Station. The Space Operations team works on everything from designing the astronauts’ suits to working with the crew on the ISS.
Engineers may have a reputation for black-and-white thinking, but Laura’s position requires her to live in the gray space. “With operations engineering, I’m constantly having to use both sides of my brain. For instance, part of my job involves running simulations for the operators in mission control. I have to understand the ways the parts of the vehicle could possibly fail in flight. I don’t just have to understand how the vehicle works, but how it affects all of the other parts that are connected to it. All of that takes creativity and supports our effort to ensure mission safety.”
Laura is now married to a fellow engineer, and together they have two boys who have already picked up the tinkering gene. Her advice to her children and students at Parker? “This is going to sound cliché, but I’m a big believer in finding what truly makes you happy. Don’t always think about an end goal, but rather, what makes you tick. Then, believe you’re capable of accomplishing anything.”
Francis Parker School is a private, independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students in Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12 from across San Diego County. Founded in 1912, the Lower School is located on the Mission Hills Campus with the Upper and Middle Schools on the Linda Vista Campus. Parker's mission is to inspire a diverse community of independent thinkers whose academic excellence, global perspective and strength of character prepare them to make a meaningful difference in the world.