Las Vegas, N.M — New Mexico Highlands University computer science graduate Amy Chavez Blea’s successful career as a software engineer for IBM got a kick start in 1999 when a university Career Services adviser convinced her to apply for an internship with the corporation.
Blea, a Las Vegas native who graduated from Highlands in 2000, was on campus this week to give talks to several computer science classes.
“Amy is an excellent software engineer, with her primary specialty in testing,” said Johari Cannon Edwards, an IBM operations manager who has supervised Blea. “She takes a software idea and its specifications and validates that all the functions work as designed.
“Amy is not only technologically capable, she’s also very good with interpersonal skills and is natural leader in our IBM work team environment. She was the team lead for several highly successful projects,” Edwards said.
Edwards added that Blea has the important ability to be proactive in proposing solutions to obstacles, and gets the job done in a highly professional, dedicated manner.
“She’s a real asset to IBM,” Edwards said.
Blea, 36, said she always loved math and science.
“Computer science was a good fit for me, and what I like about being a software engineer is that it’s constantly changing, and is always interesting,” Blea said. “In my work, I find ways to combine my analytical nature with my creativity. As a team leader, I had to find ways to redirect resources to overcome unexpected obstacles while meeting deadlines with quality and efficiency.”
Blea said that she’s had many opportunities at IBM, and has worked with exceptional mangers and coworkers.
“I’m so grateful to IBM,” Blea said.
She said that her computer science classes at Highlands gave her the tangible skills and knowledge she needed to start working as a software engineer.
“At Highlands, I was blessed to have the right people guiding and encouraging me, helping me make the leap to the professional world,” Blea said. “When Ron Garcia at Career Services urged me to apply for an internship at IBM in Tucson, it changed my life. I didn’t just enter my profession, I also met my husband, Randy, and we’ve worked together ever sense.”
The couple has three sons: Dominic, 11, Marcus, 9, and Adrian, 6. Blea likes to tell math and chemistry jokes to her kids, who call her a nerd.
Blea is also an entrepreneur, launching her own in-home baking business in 2009 after earning her certificate in Le Cordon Bleau Patisserie and Baking from the Texas Culinary Academy in Austin, where she lives and works.
“Baking is my true creative outlet that I need to balance my technical side,” Blea said. “You can make edible art to enjoy with all your senses.”
Blea volunteers her baking expertise to make unique custom cakes for Bake A Wish, an Austin nonprofit that provides birthday cakes for kids in foster care or shelters. She also serves on the nonprofit’s board of directors.
“When I design a cake for Bake A Wish, I’m thankful that I can use the gift God gave me to bring a little happiness to a child in need and make them feel special,” Blea said.
Blea also volunteers her technology expertise. At Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Las Vegas, her home parish, Blea saw a need for a website. After the pastor, Father George Salazar, gave his blessing she designed and built the site. It went live Feb. 20.
“It’s been so much fun putting the Immaculate Conception website together and giving back in this way,” Blea said. “It’s useful for both parishioners and visitors to our community and church.”