Did you think about pursuing design or construction professionally?
Elena: No, it was more of a passion project. It showed me that I have the capacity to do this kind of work if I want to. While I ended up pursuing electrical engineering professionally, my experience designing and building definitely helped me enjoy the experience of engineering. I realized that it can be very fun and not just academic.
What is the coolest project you’ve worked on at Aurora?
Elena: I’m working on building a controller for one of the power modules in the Aurora Driver. This is the first project I’m taking on at Aurora that goes from literally a scratchpad to pushing out the board. And it’s entirely mine. Since joining, I have taken on a lot of designs that were already in the works, like wrapping up the schematic design and making necessary changes, then overseeing the printed circuit board (PCB) layout, fabrication, testing, etc. It feels exciting to have something that I can really own where I drive the process from start to finish. It feels amazing to see my impact.
As you continue to develop your skills and expand your responsibilities, what has been instrumental in your journey?
Elena: Trust from my team coupled with the support and encouragement from senior engineers at Aurora. My manager and my team push me to learn more, take on more, and continue to grow. The responsibility I’ve been given since joining Aurora has allowed me to be part of designing and pushing out 5-6 PCBs for the Aurora Driver’s computer.
What motivates you to do the work you’re doing?
Elena: Doing work and building things that touch a lot of people’s lives is really, really important to me. When I think about time, resources, and energy that people spend on driving that can be spent on more joyful, productive, or creative activities, I feel the urgency to deliver self-driving technology. For me, my work is ultimately about making this technology accessible. If we reroute all the resources we’re using on driving — and driving safely — people can truly live their lives.
What would you spend your time on if you didn’t have to spend any time driving?
Elena: I do fire spinning arts. I would love to have more time to train!
When did you start fire spinning?
Elena: I’ve been doing this for 10 years now. I actually started with glow stick spinning, and when I got to undergrad, a lot of people at my dorm really liked fire. The school had a club dedicated to flow arts, and there was a big fire spinning community in Boston. So, I picked it up and I’ve been pursuing it ever since. My fire spinning community is an extremely important part of my life; I draw inspiration from them. There is so much creative energy, unrivaled self-expression, and constant craving for learning. It’s such a deeply loving and caring community, and everyone is always looking out for each other. They give me hope and they move me to be better, kinder, and to work harder.