"My background in business and economics is always with me and shapes a big part of how I approach and analyze problems. "

The Pat Hibbitts Scholarship Award Winner: Andrea Del Rio

January 17, 2017

The Pat Hibbitts Scholarship is awarded annually to an incoming female student into the Master of Digital Media program who is choosing to undergo a career change from a non digital media-related field into digital media. The scholarship is in honour of the late Pat Hibbitts, Simon Fraser University’s former Vice President of Finance and Administration and founding Board member of the Great Northern Way Trust. The award recognizes the change in Pat Hibbitts’ career from finance to educational leadership. Andrea Del Rio is the first winner of the Pat Hibbitts scholarship so we talked with her to see what led her to win this prestigious award.   

Tell us about yourself before you joined the Master of Digital Media program.

Right before the MDM program I was doing a summer internship with the Mozilla Corporation as a front-end developer for their Platform Operations team. Before that, I spent 10 months doing the Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellowship which is a collaboration between the Mozilla Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

Could you describe what the Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellowship is?

The Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellowship is an international leadership initiative that brings together the best emerging technology talent and civil society organizations to protect the Open Web. The program fills a critical niche: it provides an ecosystem for the next generation of open Web advocates to make an early impact.

What made you decide to take the MDM?

After going from management consultant to developer, I wanted to go through the experience of going to school to do a program deeply related to technology. I enjoy designing and building things so I knew I wanted a program that was very hands-on. For this reason the project-based approach the MDM offers seemed like a perfect choice. I also liked the idea of working with people from different backgrounds and the wide range of technologies we get to experiment with AR, VR, video games, IoT, etc. Last but certainly not least, I love Canada and was very excited about moving here!

What project are you currently working on? What’s your role on the team?

During my first term at the MDM I worked on a mobile application called Balance, a mobile application for anyone who is interested in a healthy lifestyle through balanced nutrition and physical activities. Balance engages users socially to develop healthy habits.

A teammate and I were the UX duo, both of us did UX design and UX research for the project. For me this project was an interesting learning experience because when we first read the brief my impulse was to think “well, there are tons of apps that are already covering nutrition and exercise”. It turned out there was still a lot of ground to be covered. With research and by following the agile methodology, we built a prototype that got a lot of positive feedback during the Beta Test day.

So you have experience in both front end development and economics, is there one area that you want to focus on more at MDM?

My background in business and economics is always with me and shapes a big part of how I approach and analyze problems. However, during the program I would like to further develop my UX designer skills. Given that my experience is in web and mobile, through the MDM I want to gain experience designing for new platforms, like VR or IoT.

Could you tell us a little bit about the Pat Hibbitts Award that you won?

The Pat Hibbitts Award provides funding to one incoming female student in the Master of Digital Media program who chooses to undergo a career change from a non digital media-related field into digital media. In my case, I made the change from management consulting to software development. I’m very honored to be the first recipient of this award and encourage MDM incoming students who are eligible to apply!

The Patt Hibbitts Scholarship is awarded every year and applications are open for the September 2017 intake of students. Read Pat Hibbitts’ full obituary on SFU’s website and find out more about the Pat Hibbitts scholarship.