At Torc, co-ops (or “cooperative education positions”) are full-time opportunities for college students studying engineering to develop their skills, work alongside world-class engineers, and get paid to work on autonomous vehicles. Co-ops are integral to the success of our winning teams, and many co-ops become permanent Torc’rs.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Jamie Barnes, a Forensics Engineering Co-op on our Release Quality team. Read on to learn more about her co-op experience at Torc.
What are you studying in grad school, and what grad school do you attend? What year are you in grad school?
Jamie: I am a Mechanical Engineering master’s student with a concentration in Robotic Systems at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I am going into my second year and plan to graduate this December.
What about autonomous trucking excites you?
Jamie: I’m really excited about the idea of autonomous trucking and autonomous vehicles in general. Autonomous trucking is such a new field with the potential to change our lives in significant ways. From increasing accessibility to saving lives, I’m excited to be a part of it all!
Why did you decide to apply to be a co-op at Torc?
Jamie: Torc has been on my radar for quite some time. Before coming here, I had the feeling from talking to Torc’rs that the company is full of high-quality people – both that they are incredibly smart and genuinely nice. I’m happy to report that this has proven true since I’ve started here. The emphasis on robotic systems has always interested me, but really, the people here seal the deal!
How has your experience at Torc helped you develop career skills?
Jamie: Torc has given me great insight into everything that goes into creating a complex autonomous system. As a Forensics Engineering Co-op on the Release Quality Team, I really get to see the system as a whole and all the cogs that turn the machine. I feel incredibly fortunate that my role allows me to understand every team’s contribution to the truck and increase my knowledge base in multiple engineering disciplines.
What work or project are you most proud of having completed while at Torc?
Jamie: I am working on a project to improve calibration efforts which is such an important task for autonomous vehicles. Even if the autonomy stack is perfect, performance will not be up to par if the sensors are not correctly calibrated. Across teams and levels, Torc has been very supportive of my research interests in this field to bring this research project to fruition. I look forward to seeing the project’s progress as I continue my co-op.
What challenges and what successes have you encountered over the course of your engineering journey?
Jamie: I was more into the arts growing up – heavily involved in writing, dancing, and band. I didn’t discover my love for robotics until later, and I sometimes struggle to balance those interests. Fortunately, I’ve been able to leverage my experiences and apply them to the engineering field – often in surprising ways. While it is important to bring technical knowledge to the table, having a different perspective has helped. I like to use my background in performing and writing to communicate my engineering project work to many audiences, especially through community events.
If you could give one piece of advice to women pursuing a STEM career, what would it be?
Jamie: Do not question your place and always encourage those around you. I have been part of many classes and teams where I am the only woman and have slowly learned the importance of being able to speak up and voice my ideas and opinions. I believe that everyone in STEM needs to support the next generation in discovering and developing their passions within the STEM fields. This can be through providing mentorship or just engaging in conversation about the exciting work you are doing. This is the best way to encourage women to pursue STEM careers.
At Torc, we’re looking for people to join our winning team and provide different perspectives and skillsets on the path to becoming the industry standard in self-driving trucking. Check out our available co-op positions for this fall.