Tell us about your path that led you to Aurora. Why autonomous vehicles, and why Aurora?
I grew up in a household of engineers. My dad was an industrial engineer and my brother is a software engineer, so I was always around the machines and robots they built. I remember daydreaming as a child about building the automated Enforcement Droid from RoboCop.
My first professional experience with robotics was in the surgery room, where I trained with a da Vinci surgical arm and experienced the precision of robotics firsthand. Fueled by my interest in artificial intelligence and robotics, I started following autonomous vehicle blogs and discovered Aurora, a company with a great mission that combines engineering with a topic that had been important throughout my career – safety.
I was drawn to Aurora’s supportive and collaborative culture and wanted to be a part of developing self-driving technology. I look forward to the day when Aurora’s technology powers self-driving fire engines and ambulances to safely navigate first responders and patients through traffic. This will reduce the risk of accidents and improve response times, and it would bring my career full circle.
You started at Aurora as a Vehicle Operator. What was that like?
Vehicle operators collect critical data that we use to train our autonomy software, generate new virtual tests, and create maps. They’re Aurora’s eyes and ears on the road and are integrated with engineering teams across the company to create a feedback loop so we can continually improve the Aurora Driver. Because of the cross-functional nature of the role, they have many opportunities to engage with and learn from different teams and functions. This was critical to my career development and I learned about mapping, hardware component installation, and software troubleshooting – skills that led me to take on new and more technical challenges at Aurora.
As a kid growing up, these types of roles didn’t exist. It’s exciting to be a part of a new and disruptive industry that’s creating all types of new jobs.