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Susan Martinez: NASA Engineer, Fashionista and Nail Artist

female NASA engineer Susan Martinez

While navigating your journey through STEM, it is important to continue to express yourself and your individuality. Some people use clothes, while others use makeup, but for NASA engineer Susan Martinez @adastru, nails are one way for her to feel empowered and express her own uniqueness! If you go to Susans page, you will see how she stays true to herself and she expresses her love for fashion, nails and STEM. We especially love how she even found ways to combine her love for STEM and nails by designing the cutest NASA inspired nails!

woman NASA engineer Susan Martinez

What do you do currently:

NASA engineer, Additive manufacturing Engineer

I work in metallic and plastic 3D printing for in-space and on earth applications. I design, print, and manufacture pieces for various NASA projects, vehicles, and the International Space Station.

How did you learn how to do your own nails:

Before @AdAstraSu, my account was a personal nail page by the name of @NailartOohlala. I created this account in 2010 and have been operating it as a nail account for 10 years this year! It wasn’t until I finally came to terms with the fact that my passions had changed that I transformed it into @AdAstraSu, to be an advocate for other women in STEM. Everything I know how to do on nails is self-taught. I used to only paint on my natural nails and at the height of @NailartOohlala I was painting my nails 5 times a week!

NASA inspired nails nail art

How long does it usually take to do your nails?

Anywhere from 1-4 hours. It depends on what I am doing on my nails honestly? A full polygel set usually takes 1-3 hours. If I am just painting it usually takes less than an hour. What takes the longest is the planning! Sometimes you plan and plan and it just doesn’t work out the way that you want it to. Then you take it off and start all over!

What inspired your love for nails?

When I first started doing my own nails (2010!) It was really about being unique. No one else that I knew did nail art to the extreme level that I considered “nail art” (more than just an accent nail or stripes/dots). I really felt like I fit in, within the nail community that Instagram used to hold. I felt like I belonged there and it was so nice to embrace that! I loved having unique nails that made people stop and ask “how did you do that? Where did you get it done?” I loved telling others that I did them myself and that I do it on my own nails.

Star Wars inspired nails nail art

How often do you do your nails?

When I was doing my nails in high school: 4-5 times a week

When I was doing my nails in engineering school: 1-2 every month maybe?

College really took a toll on my creativity and the amount of time that I had to spare away from homework. Engineering school is hard, and it kept me very very busy.

When I got out of college and started working full time: 1 a week. This slowed down when I started doing my own polygels (last 2-3 weeks, can be filled very easily). I have had my current polygels on for about 12 weeks?? I have filled them 4 times and they are still as good as new. I think that it might be time for a new set…

What is your favorite nail style?

When I painted and maintained my natural nails my go-to shape was long rounded. Now that I do my own polygel nails, I prefer a long coffin shape.

galaxy nail art

Does having your nails done affect the way you work in any way?

Well, longer nails makes it difficult to type at times! It is something that you get used to that is uncomfortable at first, like walking in heels or wearing makeup. The other way that nails can affect my work is that I work in a lab with powderized metal for additive manufacturing. In my lab we are required to wear gloves, this affects me in the sense that I have to wear larger gloves for my hands than I would if I did not have nails on. (It is worth it though!)

How do you come up with your nail designs?

I got inspired by a lot of other users a lot, (@heyitsjessie.k, @coewlesspolish, @sparrownails) or if I had a special occasion. When I got my internship at NASA, I did galaxy/NASA nails to announce my internship. I loved trying different designs with acrylic paint, I would always steal my twin’s (Kathryn Barber, @kataphrodite) acrylic paint, she is an artist and had plenty of paint to go around! She would help me with designs and even draw other stuff out for me before I did it on my nails so I could get a feel for how to do it.

sailor nail art

How does having your nails done make you feel and why?

Empowered definitely, but it makes me feel feminine. I am a very feminine woman and I do think that having my nails done really just makes me feel so strong, powerful, and confident. Having my nails done makes me feel like myself. I have been associated with nail art for 10 years now and when I think about myself, it is completely a part of my identity. I wouldn’t be who I am today without nail art, it helped shape me into the confident woman I am today.

Susan Martinez

You can find Susan @adastrasu on Instagram


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