My Journey to Ambi: The Series
Meet, Srishti Dhamija
At the early age of nine, Srishti Dhamija had her mind set on being an engineer.
“In school, one of the languages we learn is Hindi, and we had to write essays as practice. One of the topics we had to write about was what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I wrote about how I wanted to be a computer engineer, and I wanted to work in aeronautics.”
Her father studied biotech, and her mother worked as a software engineer for more than two decades, so science and engineering have always fascinated her. “I still have this essay in my bag. It’s so funny and nice to look back and see that I stuck to what I wanted to do.”
A Lifelong Passion.
In 2016, Srishti graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Her first job was at DreamWorks Animation in India. There, she got to work on many movies, and was even accredited in a Hollywood film. Following Universal Studios’ acquisition of DreamWorks, Srishti joined a lab in Singapore as a Research Engineer. After two years at the lab, Srishti came to the US to pursue a masters degree at Johns Hopkins in 2019. Today, she is a robotics software engineer at Ambi Robotics.
“When I started looking into the robotics field, I was totally blown away because there are so many different aspects to robotics which nicely combined everything that I had worked on and everything that I wanted to work on. For example, I was working on graphics and animation before that, and that is still applicable in robotics. We use so much of that in simulation. And again, the 3D animations are very similar to how we represent our robots. There were so many patterns, and literally everything that we worked on seemed really disconnected, and was actually coming together really nicely in the field of robotics. That’s why I decided to go further into robotics and really love it, and I’ve learned so many new things.”
In her role at Ambi, Srishti has two main focuses: “One part is the code libraries I work on, also known as AmbiOS. These are all the libraries that define the abstractions for all of the physical objects in our robotics systems and how they move, how you control them, policies, robots, everything really. The second part is the actual applications and using these libraries. We are currently working on AmbiSort.”
AmbiSort is a piece picking robotic system that has empowered thousands of warehouse workers to handle more parcels, increasing warehouse safety and productivity.
“All of the supply chain companies in the world need products like this. It’s directly applicable to those use cases, but for us as a company, I think it gives us samples and insight to the problems that occur on the floor. I think it also unlocks ideas of what we can do in the future. For example, this current use case has given us so many ideas of the current problems the industry faces, and how we can solve them. Parcel sortation and pick and place is just one of many solutions in the world. It makes such a large impact because there are so many parcels, and that really fascinates me. There’s so much to do, and I think this is a really good start for us.”
Since joining the team, Srishti has been able to visit a local warehouse to see AmbiSort systems in commercial production – empowering warehouse workers to handle more.
“My first visit was a memorable experience because it was the first time I got to see our machines in action. I got to understand what was going on, and I saw first hand any problems we may run into.”
However, her most notable experience at Ambi so far was the job application process itself.
“I really liked the interview process because it was very collaborative and it felt like a two way street. For example, I got to present my project to the whole team, I got to meet the team, they asked me questions, and I asked them a lot of questions. Even the technical interviews were very collaborative. It felt like I was working with a colleague trying to solve a problem together, instead of being grilled on something specific. I was very comfortable with everyone I interviewed with. Not knowing something was not discouraged, and they made it very clear that it was okay to not know something.”
From watching her father do lab experiments at home, to pursuing her passion in robotics, Srishti has come a long way on her journey to becoming a software engineer.
“I think one piece of advice I have is don’t be afraid to ask for help. That’s one mistake I made when I was much younger. Of course I was lost and so on, but I do recall needing to take advice. I used to try and figure things out on my own, which of course doesn’t always work, but I’ve been trying to go out of my way to ask people for help and seek out information. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how helpful people are. I also try to pay it forward, like if people are asking me questions, I try to tell them everything that I can tell them.”