March 21, 2023Blog

Meet the Mobility Makers — Supporters of the Next Generation

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Note: Woven Planet became Woven by Toyota on April 1, 2023.

At Woven Planet Holdings, Inc. (Woven Planet), we aim to deliver the world’s safest, smartest and most human-centric mobility. We truly believe that AI is key to increasing safety, fostering trust, and amplifying human capabilities. But what matters to us most is people who build the technology.

In an effort to encourage young people to pursue education and careers in software engineering, we participate in the Singularity Battle Quest. It’s a forum that enables us to apply the knowledge and skills of our people to supporting the technology leaders of tomorrow. It’s a Japanese industry-academia collaborative competition aimed at improving “AI literacy” and fostering “AI athletes” among high school students. It’s been a great honor to sponsor it since 2019.

This year is a special year for us because some of our amazing engineers and project managers, Alexander Bolinsky, Benjamin Ioller, Jilada Eccleston, Jorge Pelaez, Matthew Vern, Megumi Kato, Nicholas Tankard, and Shorook Saleh, helped develop one of its competitions called “Robo Quest”.

Hoping that these students will learn the importance and joy of software development, they’re all dedicated not only to creating a fun competition, but also to helping create manuals, conduct online lectures, and answer questions. Let’s learn more about our 2022 Singularity Battle Quest volunteers…!

Q: What competition did you develop for the Robo Quest?

Nicholas: We’ve designed a competition where the students need to solve an increasingly complex series of mazes. They have to use different sensors on the vehicle, and account for real world changes in the environment and things not being exactly as they expect. They also have to work with some more complicated algorithms to solve the harder parts of the competition.

Q: What challenges did you face in developing the Robo Quest?

Jorge: The main challenge was to choose what simulator we use. We wanted something that was easy to use, but at the same time, that was able to provide a challenging environment for the students.

Benjamin: One of the most challenging things we faced was to try to create a competition that aligned with the level of the students’ knowledge and skills.

Q: What excites you about the Robo Quest?

Alexander: There are so many things that excite me. Not least because I have quite a bit of experience in teaching kids programming and robotics. It’s so much fun, especially when it works well and everyone feels like they can contribute and learn something. The excitement and the inspiration I’ve seen kids get from this is just wonderful.

Jilada: It’s the ability to engage with young future engineers that are going through school and still trying to figure out what they want to do. Being able to help teach them and share the knowledge that I’ve gained throughout my education is exciting for me.

Megumi: We can do things that let the students experience what we do in the engineering field as well as in the international environment with opportunities for them to interact with our non-Japanese engineers.

Q: Why did you join the Robo Quest project team?

Matthew: It sounded quite interesting. Robotics is not something I have experience with, so it’s a learning experience for me too.

Benjamin: Because when I was a high school student, I wanted to have this kind of opportunity. It’s very nice that now I can help the students have these opportunities.

Shorook: I have experience in nurturing students in the tech field, such as creating programmes and learning materials for them. I really love to see children grow when they learn something new. I hope by the end of this event, the students become really involved in the robotics area.

Q: What is the Robo Quest project team like?

Megumi: Nicholas joined the team and became a great leader. Many other passionate and energetic engineers also joined us. They do everything voluntarily, and they’re willing to support the students. It’s a great thing, and I’m really impressed.

Nicholas: The project team is made up of a great group of engineers and project managers. We put a lot of work in to make this competition the best and to give the students all the support that they can get. It’s been a really great team environment to work in.

Q: What does contribution to society mean to you?

Jilada: It’s being able to give back what I’ve learned. It’s about being able to teach the younger generation, inspire them, and help them grow in the field of engineering and STEM.

Shorook: It’s one of the biggest passions I have. Helping students grow into technology experts, nurturing them about how to utilize it, these kinds of things are very important to build a strong society.

Alexander: At its most basic level, contributing to society means not just being a consumer of the world, but also investing in it. We’re able to build something that positively impacts people’s lives and makes their lives easier.

Q Why is it important for you to support the next generation of software engineers?

Jorge: They are the ones who are going to develop the future. They have a lot of ideas. They have a white board for the future. I want them to feel that they can do whatever they want, especially in fields they are passionate about.

Matthew: I want them to know that developing software is not as daunting or as scary as people often think. It’s surprisingly easy to get into programming. I’m really excited to see what the next generation is able to build.

Benjamin: Technology is changing very fast. If students can have support from people who are already in the business, we can help guide them to be more successful.

Join us! 👋

If you are interested in working with these people full of passion and inspiration, please have a look at our current open positions!