As our Director of Product, Andrew Newton makes the final decisions on upgrades to our scalable products. That’s fancy-talk for being the boss who calls the shots on how Firespring evolves the Springboard into a better website creation tool for our nonprofit clients. He gathers data on users’ likes and dislikes and analyzes how to provide people with a better experience given the available time and resources.

Andrew said his job is mostly “behind the scenes,” but we think he might prefer it that way.

Outside of work, Andrew volunteers by helping scientists remotely through Zooniverse. Zooniverse is a website where volunteers can help interpret and analyze data for scientists and researchers all over the world. Together, volunteers are doing everything from training AI to recognize certain brain proteins to helping astronomers map the night sky. There are thousands of different projects to work on, and anyone can choose something that fits their fancy.

“In this (project),” Andrew said, pointing to his laptop screen, “they show you a picture of somebody’s brain activity from whatever research they did. Then you answer questions about it. Like, ‘What shape is it?,’ ‘How bright is it?,’ those kinds of things. It helps them to do whatever medical research they’re doing.”

Andrew showed me another project he worked on in which he helped astronomers answer questions about galaxies in a picture.

“I like the sci-fi ones because they’re a little more interesting,” Andrew said, smiling.

Andrew said he likes knowing that he can help contribute to the world’s scientific advancements whenever it’s convenient for him. He can volunteer through COVID lockdowns, rainy days, slippery roads, sniffly noses or even on his break at work. It allows him to give as much back to the community as possible while he shuffles through his busy schedule.

“So if something comes up or if I have some unexpected free time, I can just hop on and do however much I want to do,” Andrew said. “It’s just a lot more flexible that way.”

The neat thing about Zooniverse—besides helping out the scientific community—is that the scientists tell volunteers what will come of their contributions.

“(The scientists) always have a good write-up about why it’s important and what you’re helping to do,” Andrew said. “It’s just fun to be a part of this big, cool thing that will someday be something really neat.”

Even though Andrew (a self-proclaimed introvert) likes to work behind the scenes, his passion to solve problems for others is abundantly clear. Andrew lives our Core Values every day, and we couldn’t be prouder to have him on our team.

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