Andrea was first presented with the challenge of picking a career path in kindergarten. Along with her class, the teacher, Mrs. Markworth, asked everyone to draw what they wanted to be when they grew up. Andrea was conflicted between being an artist or a writer, but having to pick only one, chose to draw herself as an artist, adorned with a beret and paint palette.
When Andrea brought home her assignment several weeks later to show to her parents, her mom looked at it and told her it would be difficult to make a living as either. Andrea however, was not yet ready to give up. The next year, when she had the same assignment, she drew the exact same thing in hopes of receiving a different response. It turned out that neither profession had become more lucrative in the past year, and Andrea was left without a clear sense of career path.
As third and fourth grade rolled around, Andrea began to dread the question of "What do you want to be when you grow up?" She defaulted to engineering, because her parents both worked as engineers, and if they liked it, she figured she might like it too. (Is that how genetics works?)
In middle school, Andrea had an epiphany while watching an episode of The Apprentice with her parents. Contestants were asked to design children's toys, and conducted focus groups, ideation sessions, and observational research. Prototypes were made by a mysterious professional, who delivered different models based on the concept that was submitted. Andrea was fascinated by the process, and thought it would be really cool to be the guy that made the prototypes. Unfortunately, neither of her parents knew what field that was, and she settled back on the idea that "engineers design things."
Andrea first began studying mechanical engineering at Cornell University, where she did a lot of math and physics problem sets. She had her second television-related career epiphany when she was introduced to the principles of human-centered design via a shopping cart segment dating back to 1999 on ABC's Nightline. Inspired by a people-focused approach, she shifted toward a self-directed design track that focused on Human Factors, combining principles from psychology, anatomy, and engineering. In Human Factors, she designed and conducted research on laptop and tablet working postures, and how product design could be used to prevent unhealthy working habits.
After graduating from engineering, she wanted to fill in the gaps she perceived in a self-directed design track, and began the MFA Products of Design program at the School of Visual Arts. It was here she discovered a love for understanding and designing user experience (in the largest sense), and furthered her skills in systems thinking, user research methods, and the iterative prototyping process.
Andrea is not the artist or writer she hoped she would be when she was five, but believes she has found something that suits her even better. Instead of finger painting flowers or rainbows, she combines problem solving with aesthetics. And through every design project, she is able to share her ideas through storytelling in the way she adored as a child.