Meet the 2020 Safety Engineering Interns: COVID Edition


About the Safety team & What we do

Uber is dedicated to keeping people safe on the road. The Safety and Insurance Engineering team is at the core of Uber’s business. We work to redefine what it takes to be safe on the roads at a global scale. Our technology enables us to focus on rider safety before, during, and after every trip.

We use real-time telematics and motion sensing technologies along with multi-faceted machine learning algorithms and user-facing mobile products. This helps reduce and prevent unsafe driving and behavior on the Uber platform. The team also builds low-latency data streaming infrastructure that ingests terabytes of data daily. Our work touches all parts of the Uber experience from dispatch to trips and post-trip events, and covers Uber’s entire ecosystem from our rides business to other newer Uber marketplaces, and ventures.

Want to learn more about the Safety Team from the perspective of its interns? Read on about the experience of interns on the team this summer in their own words. 

Safety Summer Internship 2020

 This summer, the Safety team had interns distributed across six cities, three time zones, working on eight different products for 12 weeks. With the transition to remote work due to COVID-19, it was not the usual summer in store for us. While the Zoom meetings with themed backgrounds and game nights helped foster collaboration, the serendipity of hallway run-ins and casual lunch chats was certainly missed. 

Despite the challenges, we didn’t let the pandemic dampen our spirits. We met weekly over Zoom to get to know each other and soon became a vibrant intern family. The intern energy thrived and a great manifestation of this was when we self-organized to pitch an exclusive Safety-themed intern hackathon: a short, two-day code sprint in which interns built two new safety features from start to finish! To prepare for the hackathon, we met with mentors and managers from various Safety teams to conduct brainstorming sessions over the course of two weeks. After collecting a host of ideas, we triaged projects for feasibility and ultimately landed on two ideas, both related to enhancing Uber’s emergency assistance features

After two days of coding, several code deployments, long Zoom calls, late nights, and complimentary UberEATS orders, we presented and demoed their prototypes to the wider Safety Engineering team, including our Director of Engineering, Nandu Ramani. Notably, we did all this in addition to our individual internship projects. It was great to see how easy it was to pitch ideas, get buy-in and then just go build!

Meet this year’s stellar Safety Interns in their own words: 

 

Jackie Oh

Tell us about yourself

I am entering my Junior year, studying Computer-Science at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and I am from the Chicago suburbs. In my free time, I enjoy running, cooking, and playing the ukulele!

What drew you to work on the Safety team?

Safety is always at the forefront of my mind when I take an Uber. Because of this, I was really interested in working on products that empower users with the tools and knowledge they need to feel safe when taking rides. 

From following Uber in the news, I was really impressed by how much Uber has prioritized safety in recent years and by the diverse array of features which help users feel safer while using Uber. It seemed like an exciting place to be, and my experience this summer confirmed this!

What was your favorite part of working on the Safety Hackathon?  

My favorite part of working on the Safety hackathon was getting to know people I wouldn’t have interacted with otherwise. Meeting coworkers and other interns is a lot more difficult while working remotely, without casual lunch outings or watercooler talks that you would normally have working in an office. 

This hackathon gave me the opportunity to work with other Safety interns, engineers, and product managers to brainstorm ideas, debug issues, and prepare for our final demo. I also really enjoyed getting exposure to safety features that I was less familiar with, like Share Your Trip, and use technologies I haven’t worked with before.

What is your favorite UberEats restaurant in your area?

Bap Plus Korean Restaurant!

 

Sasankh Munukutla

Tell us about yourself

I am entering my Junior year at Stanford University studying Computer Science and I am from Singapore. In my free time, I enjoy playing and watching basketball and football. 

What drew you to work on the Safety team?

I am super passionate about the intersection of technology and social impact, which has been the main theme of my work in college. Moreover, when I served as a commander in the Singapore Armed Forces for two years prior to college, safety was a critical value in every endeavor. This made the Safety team at Uber a natural fit for me.

Safety is the foundation of the Uber platform and I was especially inspired by impactful technology ranging from RideCheck to the Safety toolkit that have come from the team. Working on the Safety Data Team this summer, I have found it fulfilling to improve how machine learning models interpret data and impact safety outcomes on a global scale.

What was your favorite part of working on the Safety Hackathon?

I really enjoyed that we could use our own experiences with Uber to inspire new safety features. I am grateful that interns could go through the entire process from idea generation to execution on these impactful features. Given the virtual format of the internship, my favorite part of the hackathon was getting to spend time with my fellow interns in a meaningful way, forming bonds that will go far beyond the summer and ultimately establishing this hackathon culture for future summer interns! 

What is your favorite UberEats restaurant in your area?

INDO Restaurant & Lounge, Palo Alto 

 

Natalie Isak

Tell me about yourself.

I am entering my Junior year at Cornell University studying computer science. In my free time I like to run and try new foods! 

What drew you to work on the Safety team?

I am interested in using my programming skills to have an impact. Knowing that my work helps make Uber’s platform safer makes me feel much more fulfilled and excited about my tasks. Technically, safety is also an interesting team given the various services available and the complex needs of different regions and users.  

What was your favorite part of working on the Safety Hackathon?

My favorite part of the hackathon was having the opportunity to work in different parts of safety’s tech stack. I spent the majority of my internship working on a specific project, and this hackathon exposed me to dozens of new services and APIs in a matter of days. In addition, I enjoyed working with the other interns to piece together our knowledge to make sense of the new pieces of the codebase. 

What is your favorite UberEats restaurant in your area?

Coldstone Creamery.

 

Cecilia Ding

Tell us a bit about yourself

Hi, I’m Cecilia, and am entering my Senior year majoring in computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In my free time, I like to paint, cook, and make mashups. 

What drew you to work on the Safety team? 

As someone who was raised by cautious parents, safety has always been in the forefront of my mind. Every time I got in an Uber, I always wondered if there were ways for Uber to keep both the rider and the driver safe. When I saw Uber’s Emergency Assistance for the first time, it immediately piqued my interest, and I wanted to contribute to Uber’s goal of ensuring its users’ safety. Joining this team has definitely been one of the best experiences I’ve had! 

What was your favorite part of working on the Safety Hackathon?

Seeing all the interns come together to build something over such a short period of time! It was amazing to see the level of collaboration and seeing how quickly everyone navigated through new repositories. 

 

Jazmin Perez

Tell us a bit about yourself

Hola, I am Jazmin Perez, entering my senior year at California State University Northridge. In my free time, I like to swim and bike. 

What drew you to work on the Safety team? 

As a young woman, safety while using Uber has always been a priority for me. When I first read Uber’s blog about it’s new feature that allowed riders and drivers to reach out to 911, known as Emergency Assistance, I was immediately interested in the amazing work that the Safety Team was doing. 

What was your favorite part of working on the Safety Hackathon?

My favorite part of working on the Safety Hackathon was like in any other hackathon: being able to get hands on experience on new technologies. For two days, I switched from working in Scala to working in Go. In addition, I finally met my goal to work with the Safety Controls team and dip my toes in the service which handles the SOS business logic. 

What is your favorite UberEats restaurant in your area? 

Marafuku Ramen! 🍲

 

Ziyang Ji

Tell us about yourself

I am an incoming senior at University of Michigan studying Computer Science and Economics. I am from China. I like running marathons and I cook great Szechuan food!

What drew you to work on the Risk team? 

I am passionate about the interdisciplinary field between Computer and Economics, especially how we use technology to shape financial decisions and behaviors.That’s why I found myself at the Risk team. It turned out that this is a perfect place for me to explore, learn, and grow.

What was your favorite part of working on the Safety Hackathon?

I really appreciate this opportunity for us to build a whole project within a two-day time period from ground up. It all started from a project proposal, then we actually saw the code functioning in the testing stage, and finally we even deployed the code to production for a live demo! It gave us a chance to both design the architecture as well as get hands-on experience implementing technical details. I definitely learned a lot in this short time.

What is your favorite UberEats restaurant in your area? 

Taste of India!

 

Chidindu Alim

Tell us about yourself

I am entering my sophomore year as a Computer Science major at Howard University. I’m from Nigeria and whenever I have the time I love to write (mainly poetry) or cook.

What drew you to work on the Safety team?

I have always wanted to use computer science to positively impact others. Knowing the Safety team’s main goal is to promote the safety of the driver and rider, I was immediately interested in working in such an environment. After all, what’s more important than a human’s life?

What was your favorite part of working on the Safety Hackathon?

My favorite part of working on the Safety Hackathon was working in a new repository. It was fun to come up with an idea and flesh it out so quickly and successfully. The highlight though was working with other interns and collaborating together.

 



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