Creative and driven, Lucia is a lifelong learner.

Hi Lucia! What do you do at First Mode?

I’m an Embedded Software Engineer currently writing control software for various devices in our zero-emission hybrid powerplant we designed for large industrial vehicles.

What do you feel is special about the First Mode culture?

Lucia Blackwell in front of a brick wall

The company culture here is all about openness, humility, and fun. I’m an extremely shy person, but even I can walk up to any table at lunchtime, sit down with whoever’s there, and feel like I’m able to relax and be myself.

How did your passion/interest for engineering begin?

When I was a kid, I was always building and learning – starting with Duplos and wooden blocks and working up through Tinkertoys, Legos, Knex, model rockets, electronics kits, and whatever else I could get my hands on. I taught myself HTML and a smidge of JavaScript when I was around 11 in order to hand-code a Pokémon web page. When it came time to apply for college, I entered as a computer science (CS) major, but summer orientation scared me off; it sounded really hard, and I was one of the only women in the room. I changed my major and went into the animal care industry, but eventually tried again and went back for a second bachelor’s degree in CS. I learned something about myself: it turns out programming is hard, but that’s not the dealbreaker for me that I thought it was!

Why did you decide to join First Mode? How does our mission to provide clean energy solutions for heavy industry drive your work?

My second CS internship and first full-time dev job was at Planetary Resources, a former asteroid mining startup. While I was there, I made a lot of friends and excellent bonds with coworkers. 11 of my former colleagues from Planetary Resources went on to form First Mode. I kept an eager eye on them, and as soon as there was enough software work to go around, asked to join. I was excited to meet back up with really smart, kind, collaborative people, and doing work to benefit the whole planet was some serious icing on that cake!

Lucia Blackwell in front of tan-colored wall.

What’s your proudest professional accomplishment?

My career change. It was really hard to even identify that I needed a change. I’ve always had confidence problems, and thought I’d love a job I could get really awesome at and just crush it every day. I was wrong: I got good, yes, but I started running out of new things to learn and the boredom eventually started to get painful. On a vet assistant’s wages, taking out a second set of student loans felt like a massive gamble — “What if I failed halfway through? What if I wasn’t smart enough? What if no one would hire me with my weird professional background?” I’m grateful to my younger self every day for taking that chance and getting me into a career I’m in love with — and with programming, I will definitely never have to worry about running out of things to learn!

What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?

My second bachelor’s was an online program, and I took up knitting to keep my hands busy while I watched my lectures. That has since evolved into designing my own knitting patterns and selling them online. It’s so cool seeing other people take my designs and run with them; I love it when other knitters tag me on Instagram! I’m also very into aerial dance, PC and Switch games, and horseback riding when I can find the time.

Why does it matter that we keep inventing, testing, and creating?

Because we can do better! Inventing and creating is how we improve the baseline quality of life on Earth. We’ve already stretched our lifespans far beyond what they once were, but there’s still a lot of work to do.