Finding my Passion
Before joining the College of Liberal Arts, current graduate student Max Campbell came to Purdue with a very different goal in mind. Starting out in Computer and Information Technology, Max was first drawn to Purdue because of its reputation for STEM-related career paths. However, after taking several CIT courses his freshman year, Max decided to make the transition into History, transferring from the Polytechnic Institute to the College of Liberal Arts.
Max took several history courses before landing on his concentration, which he chose after taking Professor Michael Smith’s class, History of the Space Age. “After that I wanted to learn as much as I could about the space race and the astronauts,” Max says, “and there was no better place than Purdue.”
While at Purdue, Max has had the opportunity to work in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education Library’s Flight and Space Exploration Archives, which houses the papers and personal artefacts of astronauts and aviators Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, Amelia Earhart, Jerry Ross and Ralph Johnson. There, Max gained valuable insight into the personal lives of many of the astronauts he studied in his Space Age and Aviation History courses. During his work there, Max also had the opportunity to meet astronaut Gene Cernan who donated his papers to Purdue’s Archives.
Last summer, Max interned at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., which exhibits many government and public articles dealing with Space Age and Aviation History. “Working with Purdue’s collections and then going to the Air and Space Museum was very rewarding for me because I got to see both sides of these famous aviators” says Max. Aside from expanding his knowledge of Space History, Max assisted Apollo Curator Allan Needell in creating a new exhibit for the museum entitled “Destination Moon.” He worked to compile the materials for the exhibit, and Max also honed his marketing skills by creating a video for a Kickstarter aimed at raising funds to feature Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit in the exhibit.
Overall, Max attributes his amazing experiences at the National Air and Space Museum and in Purdue’s Flight and Space Archives to some of the amazing faculty and staff in the College and the HSSE Library. “My experience in the College of Liberal Arts has helped me make an impact on the world by helping me learn as much as I can about space and space history,” says Max. “My amazing history classes, assistantship in Purdue Archives and Special Collections, and internship at the Air and Space Museum have definitely pointed me in the right direction.”
Read Max’s blog article on the Apollo 17 mission and the astronauts’ emergency use of duct tape on the moon, which is now published here on the National Air and Space Museum webpage.