Amelia Gandara started her professional life as a ballet dancer, and while studying chemical engineering at the University of Louisville (KY), she worked as a co-op student at two ironically two different industries—an oil refinery and an alternative energy research center. This the story of a Ballerina turned chemical engineer.
Ballet Dancer to Chemical Engineer: (Source: John Adkins)
Today, she works as a community developer for General Electric (GE) FirstBuild program in Louisville, this is the company’s in-house accelerator for developing new appliances. She is in a team that stimulates feedback from consumers instead of letting the products be kept in storage until launch. And if you’re curious—Yes, GE funds their projects on websites like Indiegogo.
According to Amelia: “Often when you’re working on a new consumer product, you’re working in an R&D department with engineers behind closed doors. The old way was to be first to get the patent, but the new standard is really speed to market.”
FirstBuild’s first product was called Paragon, an induction cooktop with a sensor and optional smartphone app. It was funded and tested on Indiegogo, and raised more than $300,000 for Paragon using the site.
Amelia credits the dedication and work ethic she developed while she was studying ballet for helping her get through the tough life of engineering school. With the confidence she gained from years of performing and applying it in her line of work, she has become the successful woman that she is now.
Amelia co-host a monthly hardware meet-up at work, where students, entrepreneurs and local business people can practice making pitches and learn about jobs.
Though Amelia stands out now as a business model, she still manages to keep in touch with the ballet world.
Ballet Dancer to Chemical Engineer: (Source: Lexington Fashion Collaborative)