COD Photography Program Space Shuttle Connection

Space Shuttle image

By Mike McKissack

Two College of DuPage alumnae have captured and documented a piece of American history through their photographic work with NASA's Space Shuttle program.

When College of DuPage Photography Program Manager Frank Jackowiak built his first darkroom while in the sixth grade, he couldn't have known that his passion for photography would one day lead to documenting NASA's iconic space shuttle program. A veteran of approximately 40 launches and 12 landings, including the final landing of Atlantis in 2011, Jackowiak described the experience of photographing the shuttle over the years as exciting, but a lot of work.

"There was a lot of 'hurry up and wait,'" said Jackowiak. "It's not a simple process to launch a spacecraft and NASA takes every precaution which can be a long process. You have to be ready at any moment, because they aren't going to wait for you to have your camera ready."

Jackowiak added that he was sorry to see the shuttle program end.

"The end of the shuttle program means a loss not only to science and the economy, but also a loss of the inspiration and motivation it has provided to people throughout the years," he said.

Click here to see additional shuttle photos.

Jackowiak began his journey towards a career in photography when he chose to enroll in the photography program at College of DuPage. A former police officer of 20 years, he earned an A.A.S. degree and a certificate in photography from the COD, and went on to earn a master's degree from DePaul University. He said that having a goal helped him to excel while attending classes.

"I knew I wanted to be teaching one day," Jackowiak said. "Knowing that really helped me to be a successful student."

He added that the in addition to the affordability, the quality of the photography program made College of DuPage the best choice for his needs.

"What really struck me was the top-notch instruction I found here," said Jackowiak. "It was such a positive experience. If I could have continued studies at COD for my master's degree, I would have."

Jackowiak, author of Introduction to Photography - An Instructional Workbook, is currently in his 13th year as a photography instructor at College of DuPage where he was recently hired as the full-time photography lab manager. In addition to his work with the space shuttle, Jackowiak's clients have included Abercrombie and Fitch, Air and Space, Amoco Oil, Canon, Chrysler, Sears and the Experimental Aircraft Association.

Jeffrey Ross, also a College of DuPage alum, said the College's Photography program turned his passion into a career.

A native of Cocoa Beach, Fla., Ross has experienced the shuttle program from its inception to its close, beginning as a child watching the inaugural launch of the Columbia in 1981 from the local beach, and leading all the way to the program's retirement. As a professional he has captured launches and landings of the Atlantis, Discover and Endeavor shuttles, as well as documenting the shuttle program to conclusion. In Oct. 2012, Ross was on hand to photograph the Endeavor as it made its final journey through the streets of L.A. to its new home at the California Science Center.

After relocating to Illinois in 1996, Ross began taking photography classes at College of DuPage. He had previously enjoyed photography as a hobby, but credits the photography program at College of DuPage with motivating him to make his hobby a career.

"I probably wouldn't have gotten into photography if it weren't for COD," Ross said. "The encouragement and advice I received from the instructors really inspired me to pursue this professionally."

Ross added that the comprehensive quality of the program was a major factor in his ensuing success.

"There were not only classes in the creative and technical aspects of photography, but just as important, there were valuable business classes that taught me how crucial it was to have a plan," Ross said.

That plan has worked out well for Ross. Currently based in Naperville, he runs a successful photography business specializing in corporate and advertising photography in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. His clients have included Accenture, Bader-Rutter, Calamos Investments, DePaul University, Navistar and US Bank. In 2012, he was awarded the Small Business of the Year Award in the professional category by the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, recently shared his experience and expertise at College of DuPage during "Working Creatively," a discussion of commerce and professional success in artistic fields.

Click here to learn more about Jeffrey Ross and his work.

The Photography program at College of DuPage offers a variety of classes and programs designed to meet the needs of hobbyists as well as professionals. This program offers an Associate in Applied Science degree in Photography and a certificate in Photography Technology. The Photography facilities are among the finest in the area and feature fully equipped darkrooms, electronic flash and tungsten lighting, photography studios and a state-of-the-art computer lab for digital processing.

Click here to learn more about photography at College of DuPage.

The first reusable spacecraft, the space shuttle has carried people into orbit repeatedly, launched, repaired and recovered satellites, and was used to help build the largest man-made structure in space - the International Space Station. After 135 missions and numerous science and technology innovations spanning 30 years, the Space Shuttle Program ended when the space shuttle Atlantis completed its last mission on July 21, 2011. Four shuttles and hundreds of shuttle artifacts have since been dispersed to museums and educational institutions throughout the country.