What It's Like Interning at an AI and Robotics Startup

Meet two of our interns, Sachit Ramjee and Ryan Dick. Studying at the University of Toronto’s Master of Science in Applied Computing (MScAC) graduate program, they recently completed an 8 month internship with Kindred in our Toronto location. Here they share the highlights of their internship. Both received and accepted full-time offers with Kindred.


 
Sachit Ramjee (L) and Ryan Dick expect to graduate in 2019 from The University of Toronto’s MScAC program.

Sachit Ramjee (L) and Ryan Dick expect to graduate in 2019 from The University of Toronto’s MScAC program.

 

Q: What did you study in the MScAC graduate program?

Ryan: My studies have been broadly focused around machine learning. In particular, I am interested in the application of machine learning algorithms to computer vision problems. My internship at Kindred was an excellent opportunity for me to do applied research in my area of interest.

Sachit: My studies focused on systems engineering. Specifically, I looked at the design and implementation of different types of computer systems and ways to improve their dependability.

Q: How did you hear about Kindred?

Ryan: I first heard about Kindred through conversations with other students at the University of Toronto. Kindred has built a reputation in Toronto for being a company on the forefront of machine learning and robotics research.

Sachit: I learned about Kindred from fellow colleagues. Hearing about all of the interesting projects that Kindred was working on made the internship sound like a very exciting opportunity.

Q: What was your internship project focused on?

Ryan: My internship project was focused on continuous processing of video media for robotic control. The typical convolutional neural network (CNN) models that have historically been used in Kindred's robotic systems are excellent at extracting information from individual images, but are sub-optimal for interpreting the additional information that is encoded in video streams. During my internship, I explored approaches to real-time video processing with the goal of improving the robot's ability to understand its environment and make decisions.


Sachit: My internship project focused on improving the testability of robotics software. In particular, automated end-to-end testing is a challenge due to the software's dependence on physical hardware and human interaction. As a result, manual testing is needed which can be quite labor intensive and full-system tests cannot be run frequently, as part of continuous integration, for example. The goal of the project was therefore to develop a framework that would enable automated end-to-end testing with or without the physical hardware and human interaction.



Q: What is a favorite moment during your internship at Kindred?

Ryan: It's not easy to pick a single favourite moment, but I'd have to say that it was the Applied Research in Action event hosted at the University of Toronto. This event was the culmination of my internship project, where I presented my work in the form of a research poster. Most of the Kindred team attended the event to support me, and to check out some of the other exciting applied research being presented at the event. It was fun to show off some of the cutting-edge work that is happening at Kindred, while also having the chance to see what my fellow UoT students had achieved through their Master's research.

A close second place: the weekly reading club meetings organized by the Machine Learning Team. Every week I looked forward to learning about a recent paper and discussing it over lunch with the rest of the team.


Sachit: My favorite moment during the internship was being able to see the project come together at the end, especially after spending a few months working on it. Also, being able to work with some great people along the way was very enjoyable.



Q: Which Kindred value do you identify with the most and why?

Ryan: Be Humble is the Kindred value that resonates with me most. Everyone at Kindred makes an effort to express praise and gratitude whenever someone does something that goes above and beyond. This value helps to maintain a tight team-oriented culture at Kindred.


Sachit: I identify most with the value Courage to Innovate. This value encourages taking risks and seeing different perspectives which ultimately helps find new and innovative ways to solve a problem.



Q: What advice would you give students who are interested in working at Kindred?

Ryan: I worked with a team that was very supportive, but, at the same time, no one is going to hold your hand. My advice is to take the initiative to come up with new ideas and drive your own projects. Kindred provides the tools and support necessary to be successful, but in the end, the outcome depends on you.


Sachit: Kindred is a fast paced startup with many unique challenges. Therefore, being able to adapt and pick up new skills quickly is important.