Mizzou alumna makes use of net design experience to present again to engineering, neighborhood // Mizzou Engineering

Mizzou alumna makes use of net design experience to present again to engineering, neighborhood // Mizzou Engineering


July 10, 2023

Erica Martin
Erica Martin, BS CS/IT ’08 | Picture by Evoke Group

Erica Martin, BS CS/IT ’08, has had a whirlwind couple of years. Her enterprise, Pixel Jam Digital, celebrated its fifth anniversary this summer season with a present roster of roughly 100 purchasers from throughout the globe looking for web site and digital design companies. Final 12 months, she launched a web based database of medical, social and different sources. And he or she’s been to a couple awards ceremonies — Pixel Jam Digital was named a Columbia Space Chamber of Commerce Small Enterprise of the Yr finalist this summer season, and — a lot to her delight — Martin obtained the “Nerd of the Yr” award from a neighborhood non-profit.

Regardless of her jam-packed schedule, Martin jumped on the alternative to hitch the brand new Division of Engineering and Info Expertise Industrial Advisory Council. For her, it was a approach to make use of the talents she honed at Mizzou Engineering to present again whereas additionally encouraging variety inside engineering.

“Professor Chip Gubera reached out to me final summer season and instructed me they had been placing this committee collectively and wished folks they knew can be energetic,” she stated. “So, after all, I used to be like, ‘Sure, signal me up, that’s me.’ But it surely additionally jogged my memory of how I felt once I was one in all 4 ladies within the pc science division. Illustration is extraordinarily necessary. I believed ‘what can I do on the council that may make different ladies and college students typically really feel secure, snug and assured that they will succeed?”

Now interim chair of the IAC, Martin helps information curriculum and programming, whereas offering industrial enter for accreditation. As a part of IAC duties, she joined fellow council members to evaluate senior capstone tasks this spring.

“I used to be so overwhelmingly impressed by a number of the tasks, not simply by the performance or design, however the enterprise planning typically,” she stated. “I understand how a lot thought and energy they put into it, and I used to be impressed to see that at an undergraduate stage.”

From trend to ardour

Martin grew up in what she calls the gateway pc period, and she or he was keen about programming from the get-go.

“At the moment, households had a devoted pc room with an enormous monitor and got here in a field that appeared like a cow,” she stated. “I keep in mind after we bought our first pc. I arrange an AOL profile and found ASCII code, probably the most fundamental model of digital design, and I’d customise my profile day by day.”

She quickly discovered herself serving to pals personalize their MySpace profiles and exploring net design via the once-popular website hosting service, GeoCities.

Not realizing but she may flip that keenness right into a profession, she enrolled at Stephens Faculty to check trend design. When she took Calculus I “for enjoyable,” a professor steered she look into engineering at Mizzou. By sophomore 12 months, she had transferred to info know-how, then below the umbrella of pc science, with a minor in high-quality artwork.

“The crossover of research actually saved my curiosity piqued,” she stated. “I may do the mathematics and programming, after which do colourful design and aesthetics an hour later.”

Academically, she surpassed male classmates, finally main a capstone venture that took second-place in a statewide competitors and helped IT at Mizzou snag its first award as a program.

Along with management, she gained foundational and analytical expertise that helped her navigate trade earlier than finally branching out on her personal in 2018.

“Mizzou Engineering actually set good expectations for me by way of studying the right way to be taught,” she stated. “It helped me be taught to interrupt issues down granularly, which has helped with enterprise possession.”

At this time, Pixel Jam Digital gives a full vary of net design, customized growth and analytics companies. Her shopper base has grown from contracting with different model and design businesses to working immediately with companies round Missouri to servicing corporations as far-off as Australia.

Altering the world, one pixel at a time

Throughout the pandemic in 2020, Martin started noticing a hodgepodge of social service messaging scattered throughout her social media channels. One group was providing meals help, one other transportation, one other medical screenings and so forth.

To higher arrange these sources, she created a web based database to function a one-stop store for customers. When different organizations started launching comparable databases, she paused the venture however returned to it final 12 months, increasing the scope and kind of sources.

“I made a decision to relaunch it in 2022 with the long-term objective of constructing it on the Decentralized net, a unique basis of the web that’s extra non-public and safe,” she stated. “The entire premise is you’ll be able to go to an internet site that doesn’t monitor your knowledge and discover unbiased info.”

The positioning, Assist Radar, connects customers to meals, authorized help, LGBTQIA+ help, psychological well being companies and extra. At present, she manually populates the location with principally regional sources however finally hopes to increase it throughout the nation with representatives in every state to maintain content material present.

It’s simply one other approach she’s utilizing her Mizzou Made experience to present again.

“I wish to joke that I need to save the world via net design,” she stated. “However what I imply is that I need to use my data to construct instruments that find yourself serving to folks.”

Study extra concerning the info know-how program at Mizzou Engineering.

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