At InOrbit, most of our time is spent thinking about robots and how to make them perform better. Part of that vision includes robots and humans working together – without the human factor, robots are just a collection of metal and plastic parts. Here is another in a series of posts highlighting some of the outstanding humans on the InOrbit team, also known as InOrbiters. This post in particular aims to share what the experience of being an Intern at InOrbit is like. What drives the kind of people we love to work with, what they’ve learned from the team over their summer internship, and what they find most compelling about robotics.
Arjit Johar, and Jehan Shah, are both software engineer interns at InOrbit. Both are just wrapping up their summer internship program. Arjit joins us from Toronto, Ontario, where he studies Software Engineering at York University, and Jehan from West Lafayette, Indiana, where he attends Purdue University and studies Computer Engineering.
What brought you to InOrbit, and how did you find out about the company?
Arjit: I was looking for an internship in robotics. When I found InOrbit and did my research on the platform I thought, ‘Wow, this is so cool.’ It definitely seemed like something I should pursue.
Jehan: I found the job posted on LinkedIn. I was looking at startups, a smaller company where maybe I could have more responsibility. I wanted to learn more about robotics and I thought working in the field was the best way to get there. When I learned more about the issues InOrbit was tackling around fleet management, it really stuck with me. Most companies just focus on the algorithm, so I was excited to see this as a problem I could dig into.
What was the interview process like?
Jehan: Aside from meeting the team there was a technical interview where they gave me a task to finish over a week. This was something I really liked. This was on the back of applying for a few other internships where they had given me a generic really hard algorithm task. The InOrbit task, however, was unique because it was application-based and tested my ROS knowledge. It was far more relevant to the work I was going to do.
Were you already thinking about pursuing robotics as a career?
Arjit: My background is in software development, but I really wanted to focus on robotics. I love software but I wanted to push myself down this different path. I have a real passion for robots, and thought I could translate my programming knowledge to automation.
Jehan: Growing up I did a lot of robotics competitions in middle-school and high-school, so I was always interested in the field, but I didn’t have much exposure to ROS or more complex robots. At Purdue I had a chance to serve as a software team lead for a robotics club and participate in the University Rover Challenge. That was when I started learning about ROS and more formal robot programming. After coming to InOrbit I got a lot more hands-on experience. Even at robotics clubs before I was usually trying to learn on my own, at InOrbit I had a whole team to support me and learn from.
What does a typical workday for an InOrbit Intern look like?
Arjit: A typical workday starts with checking emails and Slack. We have a daily standup meeting at 9:30 a.m. where the engineering team syncs together and reviews what we did the day before and our plans for the current day. I then check the task board to see what I have to complete and start to tackle them one by one.
Jehan: At that point I’ll often run into an issue fairly quickly, so I try to go over whatever documentation is on hand to see if I can resolve it. If I can’t then I’ll jump into a quick call with other interns or more experienced engineers. Towards the end of the day I make sure I have documented my work. We also spend some time working collaboratively on tasks like writing the scenarios for demos, or following up with various partners and vendors.
What kind of work have you been doing at Inorbit?
Arjit: As our primary focus, Jehan and I worked together on a large project. Our task was to create a compelling demo with real robots for an upcoming conference.
Jehan: That included researching and picking out the best robots to buy, where to buy them and the parts we would need. That meant we had to learn about the capabilities of the InOrbit platform, including work that was going on and features that are coming soon. We had to program the robots to do the tasks we needed for the demo.
Arjit: I focused on robot configuration mostly: setting up the connection, data sources, building the actual robot, troubleshooting (lots of debugging), and of course writing out a formal description of how the demo should flow.
Jehan: We even had to develop specific internal tools to make the demo more efficient on the day. And of course we planned the story around what might make a compelling demo. We had to really understand what features customers were using and valuing the most, to see what would drive interest.
What have you enjoyed most about the job?
Arjit: I enjoy creating new ideas that can be brought to life. Learning about new technologies and applying them to the work we are already doing in unique ways is fun, rewarding and challenging.
Jehan: Learning. Although it can be frustrating at times, the best part is continuously learning new things. And I felt that my learning has really accelerated at InOrbit because I was working with engineers who have a lot of experience in the industry. It really helped me progress quickly.
Has the internship met your expectations?
Jehan: Coming in I thought that I would be working on developing small features or tools, but this was different. We had a lot more ownership than I was expecting. We had autonomy to make real decisions about how to best showcase the platform. It put me out of my comfort-zone in a way that was really good.
Have you gotten to know the rest of the team fairly well?
Arjit: I was asked to run the company’s weekly wins meeting, where everyone gets together to talk about the cool things they’re working on, and it was actually great. A lot of people were engaged and wanted to share their stories. It almost feels like a family here, it's warm and supportive. Definitely a good bonding experience.
Finally, what do you think you’ve learned at InOrbit?
Jehan: I think InOrbit has the right people in the right places. The people here have a lot of real-world experience in the robotics industry. It’s been great to learn about real-world scenarios from them. I also learned just how much effort is needed to put into documentation. It’s so critical and a major difference from the expectations at school.
Arjit: I’ve learned a lot of new things about ROS, file management, Linux, Docker, virtual machines, and a ton about task management. At previous internships I was usually all over the place, the structure just wasn’t there. At InOrbit, I learned a lot about owning tasks, following through, and maintaining momentum. That’s something I’ll take with me moving forward.
Thanks to Arjit and Jehan for taking the time to chat. We hope you’ll join us in wishing them all the best in their future pursuits! It’s great to get some unique insight into what it means to work at InOrbit. Connect with us if you have any questions.
We’re always on the lookout for new InOrbiters. If you’d like to join our team as an intern or otherwise, please check out the latest job openings at InOrbit.