Plus One Robotics gives students — from future engineers to future marketers — first-hand experience developing and selling robotics innovations that are changing the world.
San Antonio-based Plus One Robotics continues on a dynamic growth trajectory as its groundbreaking technology is rapidly implemented in global industrial settings worldwide.
By integrating network connectivity, visual sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities with industrial robots while, the company is increasing worker safety and operational efficiencies in dynamic environments such as manufacturing and e-commerce operations. In the process, the it is also creating new career paths for robotic network operators, or Crew Chiefs.
Throughout the summer 2020, Plus One Robotics has worked with a group of bright student interns from CAST Tech High School, The University of Texas - San Antonio (UTSA), the University of the Incarnate Word and even the University of Pittsburgh to help further streamline its product strategy and define its roadmap for future offerings.
The students have expertise and interest in different fields, including information technology (IT), computer science, engineering, business administration and business development.
Plus One Robotics' cohort of 2020 summer interns (l-r): Anil Roy, Hezron Perez, Thomas Gossman, Ruta Dandekar, Saman Chaudry and Mariafernanda Amaya. Not pictured: Richard Dreyer, Liam Hoffmeister and Marlon Geronimo.
Chief among the tasks for the interns is utilizing data to generate models for Plus One’s different clients that, in turn, allow employees among those clients to focus on higher value and more productive work—therefore transitioning from dangerous and repetitive manual tasks to more complex duties, such as supervision of robotics operations.
"Each AI model is specific to the needs of our clients," said CAST Tech High School student Hezron Perez. "The work we are doing at Plus One Robotics will not only make logistics processes more efficient, but will also pave the way for other helpful technology in the future."
How Plus One’s “smart” robots work and the new careers they create for humans.
Some of the processes that Plus One clients seek to automate include sorting of small packages and letters in massive warehousing operations — tasks that are increasing exponentially due to the growth of e-commerce and require precise automation in order to be carried out properly.
"I am part of the quality assurance team, and my job is to verify the functionalities of the software before it is shipped to the customer," added UTSA senior Saman Chaudry. "I help find bugs in the software, write and perform tests and ensure that the product has no defects before it leaves our facility."
"With increased demand for automation, the precision of our work is vital toward the development of robotic systems that help Plus One's customers improve their processes," stated recent UTSA graduate Ruta Dandekar.
Along with achieving greater workplace efficiency, the students are also examining new applications and markets for Plus One's innovations — an effort that builds on the firm's recent partnership with global shipping leader FedEx.
Plus One Robotics Chief Technology Office Shaun Edwards demonstrates the pack-picking process as interns look on.
"The technology in many industries is still growing, and many companies are either not there yet or have yet to identify solutions for the challenges they are facing," said University of Pittsburgh MBA student Anil Roy. "I am responsible for multiple projects related to product strategy, such as studying our positioning with respect to competitors, finding new markets for our cloud robotics software solutions and creating a framework that helps the product team understand the customer value of a feature currently under development."
"I'm currently assisting the business development team on pre-sale demos, and my engineering mindset has allowed me to quickly acquire the skills necessary to perform demos for potential customers and investors," added recent University of the Incarnate Word mechanical engineering graduate Marlon Geronimo. "Successfully presenting demos helps the overall value and growth of the company and brings in more opportunities and creative projects that ultimately add to Plus One's technological offerings."
"At Plus One Robotics, the work we are conducting could identify opportunities for tech to grow in a specific market and help solve new customers' day-to-day challenges," continued Roy.
By working with such a diverse cohort of students who are harnessing their skill sets to develop an established understanding for next-level automation, Plus One is leveraging various viewpoints and insider vision as it further refines its technology.
"The technical skills I have gained during my educational career, such as programming industrial robotic arms, have helped me develop new solutions for when a system is not working correctly," stated Mariafernanda Amaya, a senior electrical engineering major at UTSA. "Our work is helping to advance Plus One Robotics' technology by giving them a new perspective with fresh eyes, because sometimes you need a new point of view in order to solve a problem — especially with such a fast-growing company."
"We understand that education through mentorship is the ultimate goal of an internship," explained Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder Shaun Edwards. "Therefore, we recruit interns with a strong grasp of fundamentals, provide them with tasks that match their skill sets and establish goals to challenge them. In instances where we step in to help the students, we are pleasantly surprised to see what they accomplish on their own."
"Each member of this cohort proved to us that they are not only extremely bright, but that they were also willing to work hard and continue building upon their natural talent," said Plus One Robotics Project Manager Lisa O'Briant. "Our discerning selection process, which includes coding challenges and presentations, ensures that both our interns and Plus One are set up for success."
With the internship program deemed a success, Plus One has extended it through the fall for both high school interns.
"Being one of the first high school interns at Plus One Robotics gives me the opportunity to blaze a trail for other high schoolers interested in a tech career," stated CAST Tech High School student Thomas Gossman. "Plus One has not only allowed me to utilize my IT and computer science background effectively, but I have also learned much about AI and its adaptability into an array of industrial environments."
"Every day provides new opportunities to learn and grow from the ideas that emerge from some of the smartest minds anywhere," added Chaudry. "Our motto is robots work, people rule, which is what we do — create products that ease human lives and make the world a better place."