Uber paves way to success for Pittsburgh engineers

Uber is growing far beyond an app, and it’s riding on Pittsburgh engineers to expand.

 Uber, the international rideshare company, opened its Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh in February after developing a strategic partnership with Carnegie Mellon University. Now, Uber is expanding that partnership to include Pitt. Uber’s ATC has accepted its first Pitt student, Beiye Liu, for a cooperative learning experience, according to Maureen Barcic, director of the co-op program at the Swanson School of Engineering.

Liu is a Ph.D student in electrical engineering at Swanson and the only Pitt student currently filling a co-op position with the Uber ATC. Despite being the only one, Liu said the opportunities are abundant for Pitt grads.

“They’re hiring all kinds of different engineers,” Liu said, “[Pitt] has a really good location, [interested applicants] can come in anytime [they] want.”

 The online list of positions Uber is looking to fill is lengthy, including mechanical and civil engineers, software developers and manufacturing.

In a release, Carnegie Mellon said the University’s partnership with the ridesharing company would allow for Uber technology leaders to “work closely with CMU faculty, staff and students — both on campus and at its National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC),” an institute that works with government and industry clientele to create robotics technologies.

Uber will provide funding for faculty chairs and graduate students, according to the release on its blog, in order to attract the “best and brightest graduate students.”

Uber spokesperson Molly Spaeth said that Uber is not currently releasing information about the ATC beyond what the company has posted on its blog.

Liu signed a nondisclosure agreement with the ATC and couldn’t discuss specifics of his research, but said he works five days a week for Uber ATC as a software engineer where he’s helping to develop software for the ATC’s three core initiatives: driving safety, mapping and autonomous driving, or self-driven cars.

 “[I work with] 99 percent technology people, so I really like the people and the environment,” Liu said.

Liu is not alone at Pitt in his interest in these types of projects — the University’s Robotics and Automation Society is currently working with technology similar to what Liu might be doing for the ATC.

According to club president Brandon Contino, the Society is working with GPS mapping and self-driven vehicles, including an autonomous rover.

Contino, a junior electrical engineering major, said the Society is made up of mostly engineering and computer science majors, most of whom are looking for real world experience in their fields, potentially with Uber.

Contino is currently interning withthe Eaton Corporation, a power management company, and said while he hasn’t heard about any specific opportunities with Uber, he’s aware of the company’s growing prowess.

“Uber is taking off,” Contino said. “It’s really redefining the whole industry.”


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