Sierra Nelmes 

Designing through thinking out loud (and thinking by doing) (June 30th – July 11th)
Applied Service Design techniques (14th – 18th July)
From Input to Output: Open Tools (21st – 25th July)

Country: USA

Areas of expertise: geologist, inventor, teacher, entrepreneur

Sierra Nelmes is an entrepreneur who believes in redesigning educational experiences for humans of all ages.  She believes the educational space is not only ripe for innovation but she believes it plays a critical role in building informed, cohesive global communities. Sierra was born in Hawaii, raised in California, Hawaii, and Japan.  Her family relocated 27 times within the first 14 years of her life, thus fostering a unique perspective on cultural diversity and keen interest in developing creative experiential environments.

Following her first passion, environmental science, Sierra earned a bachelor of science degree in geology from the University of California at Davis before working professionally as a geologist for four years on geotechnical engineering and groundwater remediation projects. She also worked on nonprofit water resources development projects in Africa with Water for People, an international water resources and sanitation technology nonprofit organization.

Drawn to entrepreneurialism, she then worked two years at Nest Labs, Inc. (Nest), a revolutionary green tech startup lead by Tony Fadell, during it’s post-launch startup phase. At Nest, she focused on revolutionizing the corporate services and human development world, known as human resources, while brainstorming with the product design and UX teams on additional innovations for Nest’s technology. One in particular utilized her environmental education and awareness of natural disaster risk on a patent, “Dynamic Distributed-Sensor Thermostat Network for Forecasting External Events”.

Sierra currently lives in Silicon Valley and looks forward to exploring Interaction Design this summer at the CIID as an opportunity to develop her vision for creating impactful experiences that educate and activate humans of all ages. Learn more at