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Making It

Marshall Mendoza, B.A., '10, Engineering, poses with his company's autonomous vehicle

Making It

Video game character ignites an alumnus' career in autonomous vehicle robotics.

How did you get interested in creating  robotics?

From an early age, I was interested in the video game character Mega Man, otherwise known as RockMan in Japan. I dabbled

in robotics every now and again; however when I moved to San Francisco in 2010 and I began looking for jobs. I was particularly interested in robotics companies. All the companies I was interested in were developing robots and cutting-edge technology. Working for a robotics company is incredible because it turns the fictional robots in video games and cartoons into reality. Today, I’m an electrical engineer here at Nuro and I design embedded hardware for our autonomous vehicles.

Recent headlines show Nuro is well ahead of its competitors. Is the company planning to partner with private industry?

We launched our first partnership with Kroger, the world’s largest grocer, in August 2018. We are helping the company create more convenient grocery experiences by making the on-demand economy more accessible and bringing groceries to customers quickly, safely and affordably. Recently, we also announced our latest partnership with Domino’s, the world’s largest pizza retailer. We hope to continue to partner with even more retailers in the future.

Nuro's self-driving vehicle
New to the neighborhood: Nuro’s self-driving vehicle for delivering local goods.

Why do you believe people should embrace the coming revolution of self-driving vehicles and smart infrastructure?

Change is inevitable, and the people who are working on these technologies aren’t going to rest until they have made a significant, positive impact on society. Every new, useful technol-ogy will go through a similar set of doubt, fear and proof testing. Our mission is to accelerate the benefits of robotics for everyday life and through our technology and partnerships and by working with cities, we aim to meet this goal.

What’s the best part of your job?

Without a doubt, it’s the amazing and incredibly intelligent people I work with every day. Not only do I hold everyone I work with in high regard, they also enrich my life well beyond work.

What advice would you give to undergrads/grad students who want to work in this field?

Make sure you learn your fundamentals in school, and not just for the exam. Stay up to date on this field, as it is constantly and rapidly evolving. Read everything and learn everything you can. Research all the concepts you didn’t know. Challenge yourself! Always remain vigilant with your own skill set. Being agile and willing to learn or improve is extremely important if you want to work with the most exciting technologies. And APPLY—we’re  hiring at nuro.ai/careers.

OK. Gotta ask. How did MSU prepare you for your job?

I participated in MSU Formula SAE. This was just like working at a startup where you have a lot of responsibility, aggressive timelines and a limited budget. Now, keep in mind, too, I majored in mechanical engineering. However, I’m an electrical engineer in practice. That’s another long story :-).

Anything you’d like readers to know about how you and your colleagues view the future related to technology?

Make a note of when products and technologies start to come to market and take some time to remember them as you get older. My lifetime alone has seen the start of personal computers, the internet, smartphones, artificial intelligence and The Standard Model of (Particle) Physics. All these things are going to lead to more amazing advances and luckily, I think I’ll be around to see a lot of cool stuff Taking the time to remember it all is a great way to give yourself some appreciation for the good things that are still going on in our world.

Author: Paula Davenport

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