The brightest young minds in autonomous driving share their career advice for people wanting to work on self-driving cars


Uber self-driving car

  • This week, Business Insider published the definitive list of the up-and-coming rising stars in the autonomous driving industry. 
  • The 12 names span a variety of backgrounds, schools, training, and companies. 
  • Still, their advice is strikingly similar: Just do it. No one has ever built a self-driving car before, and the race is anyone’s to win. 
  • See the full list of 12 rising stars here. 

Want to work on self-driving cars? Business Insider’s first cohort of the industry’s brightest young minds has some advice.

The dozen class members have an incredibly diverse wealth of experience on their side, despite their relative youth. More than anything, they’re drawn to the nascent industry by the prospect of making the world’s deadly roads more safe, while also being on the front lines of a rapidly developing technology.

In the course of selecting the cream of the crop from more than three dozen nominations, Business Insider asked each candidate what career advice they have for current students who may wish to enter a similar field. Here’s what they had to say:

Just do it.

Seriously. The tools are there, many rising stars said, so just start experimenting yourself either with actual prototypes or online datasets for simulation.

“You need a passion project,” said Charles Cross of Voyage. “Have curiosity about something you want to improve, investigate, or change and the learning will come naturally.”

Asta Li of Aurora puts it more bluntly:

“Go build a self-driving car!,” she said. “The best way to learn is to dive into a self-driving or robotics project. There are dozens of open-source datasets, simulations, and code implementations to learn from, as well as robotics competitions like FIRST or AUVSI.”

Know your strengths and find your passion

Use your strengths to your advantage, said Rahul Ahluwalia, a program manager at Aptiv. You have to focus on what are your strengths,” he said, “and then you focus on your weaknesses.”

The same goes for passion, says another rising star.

“Have a passion-driven career,” Keysha Camps, of General Motors, said. “If you’re working on something you love, really go all in.”

Jessie Smith, of Aurora, echoed Cross’ sentiment.

“If you care about something, you’ll put more of yourself into it,” she said. “And even if you end up with a seemingly random set of skills (like I felt I had at graduation time) it could land you the job that is actually perfect for you, rather than the job you might have thought you wanted.”

Surround yourself with other passionate people

A group of like-minded peers can make all the difference, and nearly every rising star attributed much of their success to a school group, competition team, or something similar.

“Your friends will set you up for success,” Roman Udovchenko of Yandex said. “When I started programming career, all of my friends were older than me. They said it was OK for others be better [than me]. Now, when I work on self-driving cars, it’s difficult and no one has actually done full self-driving, but I let the challenge inspire me.”

You can meet all 12 of the rising stars in autonomous tech here.

SEE ALSO: Meet the 12 rising stars in autonomous tech building the future of self-driving cars and trucks

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