By Zachary Elmer
April 15, 2013. That was the day Alexandrea Mellen’s life changed. As a spectator at the Boston Marathon, she walked by the finish line shortly before the first bomb went off. She remembered how people ran in to help those who were hurt after the event, and from then on she knew she wanted to do something to help others.
Now the proud founder of Terrapin Computing, and partner with Blasè, Alexandrea develops iOS apps that help both herself in her endeavors, and students in their studies. One of her apps, Lewis Dot Chemistry, enables students to better understand Chemistry and molecules, along with their Lewis Dot structures and details on each of the particular dots.
On October 4, 2016, Alexandrea spoke to a group of business students in Professor Glenn Starkman’s Entrepreneurship 445 class, a talk I was fortunate enough to attend as a freshman Computer Information Systems major here at the College. In the talk she spoke of her background, experiences, and how Terrapin came to being. And she offered very valid advice, the kind that not just business students can utilize.
Early on in her college years, Alexandrea Mellen would spend time creating apps for fun. Computer engineering wasn’t exactly something she saw herself doing in the future; in fact, she didn’t really have any idea of what she would do.
During a class project in college, Alexandrea, in a team with students John Moore and Artem Losev, discovered a method to hack into Square Readers within ten minutes. Their findings led to them being presented at Black Hat, the largest cyber security event in the world, in 2015. After explaining what her and her team found, she provided what she felt were the most important skills to have both with a team, and generally having as a student in college as well: communication with each other, the ability to focus on a common goal, and forming a network of individuals.
It’s no surprise that communication is key. Being able to explain what you’re doing in layman’s terms is a crucial skill, and it is the same vice-versa, where business majors need to know the technicalities of what a Computer Scientist is doing.
She also mentioned that networking is one of the most important things you can do in college. Making connections and creating contacts is something she stressed most in her talk. To quote her directly, “network, network, network, network, network”.
Alexandrea would go on to found Terrapin Computing, her own company based on her desire to help students through apps. Rather than become a part of the family business, she wanted to forge her own business and create something that was special to her, and that’s what she has done with Terrapin. If it wasn’t for the Boston Bombings, who knows what she would be doing right now?
You can find her experiences and bio on her website, located here: