Jerry S and Valentina C — Veo Robotics
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to Veo Robotics.
JS: My background is in full-stack web development. I initially got into programming out of my hobby in video game design. I was previously working at TripAdvisor working on the restaurants and vacation rentals products handling inventory, e-commerce, and UI/UX. Veo was looking for someone with front-end experience using web technologies and my background fit the bill. FreeMove® is an interesting product with a good business model so it felt like a good fit, and I’m happy to say I’ve been with the company for about a year and a half now.
VC: I was born and raised in Miami and I left to attend MIT; that’s when I first came to the Boston area. I got my degree in mechanical engineering but realized I wanted to pursue electrical engineering. For my first job out of school, I was fortunate enough that it was something I was quickly able to transition from mechanical projects to more electrical projects. I was in a test engineer role so it was a great space to do multidisciplinary work. I met Clara there and that’s how I found out about Veo. I ended up coming to an open house at Veo where they talked about the development process of FPGA chips that are used to build FreeMove™ and it turns out FPGA development was my favorite class at MIT. I ended up applying for an open electrical engineering role and got it. Today, I’m a senior hardware engineer level two, and I do all the FPGA firmware on the FreeMove Sensor.
Q: What are some of your favorite things about your current role at Veo?
JS: I really like being at a startup where I got to step into a role with a lot of responsibility. At Veo, I’ve been able to take on more leadership roles in terms of organization and workflow, and also have more responsibilities with people management. That’s been exciting for me and has presented a new set of challenges that I enjoy working through.
VC: Generally, I really like working with firmware because it requires that you have knowledge in hardware, software, and electrical processes. So, my knowledge base of electrical systems is still useful although I spend a lot of time writing code. Any time there’s an issue, I have to think about a lot of different factors, but because it’s firmware, I get the positive, quick turnaround nature that software gets. Also, it’s a fast-paced environment; I can test things pretty quickly and I can do a lot of stuff in simulation. I can refine the design right up until integration. Then I get to interface with so many more people once we hit integration, which is an added plus.
Q: What excites you about FreeMove®’s technology and capabilities?
JS: FreeMove® is the first safety certified technology of its kind and will enable closer human/robot interactions across a wide variety of industrial manufacturing applications making it disruptive in the market. I’m certainly happy to be part of the software team creating this product.
VC: I think the new found flexibility afforded by our system is really great for manufacturers and other industrial environments. I think it opens doors to creative solutions which is important in an ever changing world.
Q: What is your fondest memory with the Veo team?
JS: This isn’t one particular experience but a few fond memories I have are around what goes on during the product development cycle and seeing your work appreciated. At the beginning of each product release, members of management like Clara or Scott will get their hands on the product and give us feedback on what’s working and what’s not. Then we spend time over the product development cycle making improvements and implementing new features based on learnings of things that did and didn’t work. At the end of the product development cycle, just before release, the new features and improvements are presented. It feels good to see your work appreciated by the leaders of the company.
VC: I really like lunch conversations, and I’ve missed it a lot during quarantine. It’s a time when I get to talk to people who I don’t work with on a daily basis. Also, before quarantine, we had Fancy Fridays where, if people wanted to, they could go a little bit more out there with their look. I love fashion, so it was fun to see what people wore. There is no judgement so it’s just fun to see everyone express themselves.
Q: What’s the number one thing on your bucket list?
JS: I would like to release an online video game. I’ve been developing one with a friend and we’re getting closer to releasing it, so I’ll be excited when that finally happens. Our game combines chess with Dungeons and Dragons so it’s a fun strategy game. I’m excited to share it with the public one day.
Q: When you’re not at work, where can people find you?
VC: One of the main things is that I’m a DJ at WNBR 88.1 FM, which is MIT’s radio station. I’ve been a DJ there since 2012. On Wednesdays at 7 p.m., I host a show that alternates between two things: poetry, where I invite guests on to talk about or read live poetry, or, I’ll interview guests to talk about what home means to them. It’s called Lentil and Stone. I’ve been doing it for ten years and I really enjoy it.