Students Learn From Uber Engineer

ISD’s Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC) wasted no time getting started this semester. Created in 2016, GSAC has been working to strengthen the ISD student community by providing input and feedback to ISD Program Directors and staff and by planning events. In addition to organizing an ISD Career Fair, which is scheduled for February 9th, GSAC connected with Uber’s Stephen Lesh, the Chief Engineer of Vehicle Programs for the Uber Advanced Technologies Group. GSAC members organized a seminar event that was held on Monday, January 29th featuring Lesh.

In preparation for the Uber event, GSAC members marketed the opportunity to both ISD’s and the College of Engineering’s student populations. More than 100 students registered for the talk, which was held in a large classroom in Chrysler Center. While enjoying pizza, students settled in to hear Lesh’s talk, titled “Self-Driving Cars – How they work both as a Customer Product and a Hardware/Software System”.

Lesh held the attention of his audience throughout the hour-long talk. After sharing an overview of Uber’s interests in self-driving technology, Lesh dove deeper into the topic, explaining the various layers that comprise automated vehicle technology. He paired his discussion of the more intricate details of the self-driving automobiles with some video examples that “stitche[d] together all the pieces of the autonomous puzzle”.

At the end of his talk, Lesh offered audience members the opportunity to ask questions about the ideas he had presented. Students raised interesting points, questioning the current abilities of self-driving technology in adverse weather, inquiring how Uber’s software responded to new information, and more.

Overall, the event went exceedingly well, and GSAC hopes to host similar presentations in the near future.