Flying Cork employee Tessa Watkins

As you may remember from last week, we’re continuing our posts for National Women’s History Month into April, in a highly anticipated sequel that not even all of The Avengers movies combined could beat. We’ll call it Women’s History Month Part 2: It Should Be Longer Anyways.

To end this week, we’re introducing you to Tessa, a lover of Doctor Who, Pokémon, and many nerdy things in-between. Tessa is a lead developer at Flying Cork, originally from Brookville, PA. She has a degree in Game Art & Design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Q: What’s the most valuable part of your day?

A: The morning. If the morning doesn’t go right, the rest of the day will follow suit. Though I personally love it because it’s the part of the day that is still the “blank slate.” I also get cute, baby cuddles from my daughter.

Q: Bagels or Donuts? Why? 

A: Bagels. I have too many other sweet things in my life!

Q: If Hollywood was making a movie about your life, what would the title be, and what actress would you pick to play you? 

A: If there was a movie about my life, I’d probably call it It’s Not Luck starring Hayden Panettiere. There’s a story behind that title, but that’s for another time.

Q: What advice would you give yourself a year ago?

A: A year ago I had just found out that I was pregnant, so I would’ve told myself to get on those daycare waitlists even earlier!!

Q: What’s one thing no one knows about you, but you’re going to tell us anyway? 

A: I have an uncommon form of ADHD called “hyperfocus.”

Q: You’re trapped in a train with 3 people for one month, who do you pick? 

A: Magneto (controls magnetism with his mind, could be fun), Spiderman (good track record with saving trains), and Sheldon Cooper (loves trains). If you meant real people, then I’d chose my Auntie Donna, my husband John, and my daughter Tabitha, purely for conversational purposes and entertainment.

Q: What has been one of the best moments of your life, so far? 

A: I’d say that one of the best moments of my life is making my baby daughter giggle for the first time. I’m well aware that I’m not naturally a funny person, and now she’s the only other person in the world that I can make laugh! The other is me.

Q: What female professional has made the most impact on your career and why? 

A: Ruth Comley. In 2011, I was planning my senior year in college. I majored in Game Art & Design (GAD) at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh (AiP) and I fell in love with programming and expressing my creativity by designing user experiences due to Patricia Huettel’s prototyping course. Most of my other classmates wanted to focus on the art aspect of game design, so there were a lot of illustration and 3D modeling specialty courses, but none were running for programming specialties. 

Hans Westmen (the department chair of GAD at the time) and Angela Love (faculty at AiP and a CMU ETC connection) connected me with Ruth who taught at Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) Entertainment Technology Center (ETC). We had an arrangement that I’d spend 4 hours a week with Ruth for three quarters of the year and that would count as credits toward my degree. Essentially, I created a class that didn’t exist for just me and Ruth was my instructor. Ruth taught me the fundamentals of programming, logic, and my first programming language, Python. This yielded my first ever programming project in 2012a 2-player cooperative game called Code Echo designed for “The Bridge” on the top floor of the ETC.

And yes, I did just upload the old splash video of Code Echo I made back then to my old YouTube account purely for this response.