By Chris Stapleton, Business Development Intern

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A week ago, a group of summer interns at DeepMap took a short trip from our headquarters in Palo Alto to go skydiving in Tracy, California. We were all excited to try a new experience.

Just as DeepMap offers us great latitude in how we go about accomplishing our various work objectives, we were given the freedom to choose what sort of activity we wanted to engage in as an appreciation for our contributions this summer. After considering such options as sailing, driving exotic cars at a racetrack, and surf lessons, we ended up deciding to go skydiving.

After a short drive of just over an hour through the bucolic fields and windmill-flecked hills of the East Bay, we arrived at Skydive California. After exiting our vehicles, we were greeted by an extremely friendly yet mellow dog, Ellie, and the equally welcoming staff. After signing some waivers and watching an instructional video, we waited on a patio adjacent to the airstrip. Here, the friendly mutt provided a calming presence for those amongst us with nerves.

Soon enough, our turn came, and the instructors strapped us into our harnesses and gave some directions. We boarded a single-prop plane and, as we ascended to 13,000 feet, so too did our excitement and anticipation.

Finally jumping out of the plane was incredibly exhilarating, and the only coherent thought I had during the freefall was “this is so awesome.” Once the parachute opened and we were gracefully floating back to Earth, I was struck by the incredible scenery. With a view unconfined by the relatively narrow field of vision offered by an airplane’s window, and a visceral, unadulterated connection with the surrounding air, skydiving is truly an exceptional experience.

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This outing is emblematic of how DeepMap goes above and beyond in creating an amazing company culture. While this event was specifically for interns, in October, DeepMap is taking all of it employees and their families to Hawaii. The care that DeepMap has for its employees isn’t limited to one-off events like these; it’s evident every day. From the free daily meals to the collaborative culture, DeepMap fosters an open culture conducive to teamwork.

It is this collaborative culture that has made interning at DeepMap such a joy. We’re treated no differently than the full-time employees. We’ve been given the chance to work on serious aspects of the company’s engineering and business efforts. Some examples of this are Daniel, a Master’s student at Stanford, who has been developing tools that will ultimately make the process of computing rigid-body transforms for point cloud alignment more robust and accurate. Shirsha, a junior at Cal Berkeley, has been working on a browser and server for training data images. Baris, who’s pursuing his PhD at Penn State, is improving the training data for our deep learning systems. Kevin, a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon, has helped with developing a virtual reality viewer of our platform and making efficient use of our occupancy map data. Jingchao, a Master’s student at USC, worked on implementing pipelines on Airflow. Eric, a sophomore at Stanford, worked on making improvements to ground detection and car detection for car removal. As for myself, a senior at Princeton and the only intern on the business side of things, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects, including running an ad campaign and researching market opportunities.

Our contributions are as recognized, and we get as much time to talk at the weekly all-hands demo as anyone else. At lunch you’re as likely to find yourself sitting next to a fellow intern as DeepMap’s CEO, James Wu. I’m quite thankful to have had the chance to work at DeepMap, and I know my fellow interns feel the same way. We would highly recommend the experience to anyone else who’s looking to dive into some exciting challenges.

This summer’s DeepMap interns included Shirsha Basu, Daniel Byrnes, Kevin Hong, Baris Kandemir, Chris Stapleton, Jingchao Tang, and Eric Vincent.

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