Meet the Interns on Team Pinna

Octo has been proud to feature this year’s interns working on a solution to solve real-world problems. Last week, we interviewed Team Noise. This week, we introduce Team Pinna working on the EchoNet project. EchoNet is an AI-powered tool that, given a recording, will determine where a sound came from and send a drone to take pictures of the sound source’s location. The solution has various use cases, including search and rescue and battlefield operations. Wondering what Team Pinna’s name is all about and what they’ve been up to? Let’s hear from a couple of members on the team.

First up is Lauren Stewart, a rising senior at North Carolina A&T State University. Lauren is majoring in mechanical engineering.

Lauren, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about the project and your personal goals. We’ve learned a little about EchoNet already, but can you explain it in your own words and describe your team’s part in the project? 

Sure. The goal of this project is to develop a field device that leverages acoustic machine learning (ML) models to detect sources of fire using ambisonics acoustics and deploy drones for visual confirmation for real-time situational awareness augmentation. In anatomy, the pinna is the outer part of the ear that reacts to sound. Team Pinna’s responsibility is to design a “pinna” mechanism that can interact with different frequencies and amplify/funnel sound to boost efficiency.

Fascinating work. Is that what drew you to this internship? 

When I was looking for an internship for this summer, Octo’s project caught my eye. When I read the description of the internship, I was intrigued because it’s solving a current, major, real-life problem. I was seeking a challenging internship opportunity that would allow me to apply my technical knowledge and problem-solving skills in a dynamic work environment, while also providing me the opportunity for professional growth and development. Plus, I also read that Octo is ranked in the top 50 for top workplaces in 2023! That was a big draw for me.

It sounds like the internship was a great match, then. Can you tell us a little about your future and what you hope to achieve long-term? What do you want to be known for?  

 In my field and career, I want to be known for my determination. I want to be known as someone who does not give up and that I am determined to solve all problems thrown my way regardless of the challenges that might arise. In my field, being a good problem-solver is very important. Bringing determination into the workplace can help set the mood and the pace by encouraging others and showing that problems can be solved if the right attitude is brought to the table.

Given this, where do you see yourself in five years? 10?  

I hope that in the next five to 10 years, I am solving real-world problems with the knowledge and skills I have learned during my years at university. Right now, pollution and climate change are major threats to not just the U.S. but the entire world, and saving the Earth is very important to me. I want to better the future through AI and ML solutions to help reverse the effects of climate change and limit pollution levels.

Thank you, Lauren. We wish you the best of luck in the internship and your future. Now let’s hear from Jon Nguyen. Jon, what school do you attend, what year are you in, and what is your major?  

I’m at George Mason University. I’m a senior majoring in computer science.

We’ve heard about your team’s part in this larger EchoNet project. Can you tell us how this internship relates to your long-term goals and what you want to be known for? 

In my future career, I want to be known for creating useful robots. I decided on an internship at Octo because I like working with latest and greatest technology, and Octo stands out as a place for that. It’s a place where I can grow this skillset.

How about your longer-term goals? 

My plan is that over the next five years, I will acquire a solid foundation in robotics, machine learning, computer vision, etc. while working with a company involved in cutting-edge projects. Within 10 years, I hope to step into a leadership role and participate in multiple large-scale projects that could push the boundaries of autonomous robotics.

Thank you. We appreciate Team Pinna’s efforts in making the EchoNet project a success.  

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