Moving On, Looking Back

A short post reflecting on becoming a full time grad student at Stanford |

For a while now, I have been living two lives at once: that of a full time software engineer working at Oracle, and that of a CS Masters grad student at Stanford. In one life, finishing the first release of a brand new product with a small team of esoteric engineers scattered across a few different state. In the other, trying to keep up with classwork and delve deeper into research in AI. Granted, I was officially only a grad student part time, but it certainly did not feel like it.

Well, no more. As of two weeks ago, my time at Oracle has come to an end - I am now a full time grad student at Stanford. Being the sentimental guy that I am, I decided to write up a little blog post to commemorate the occasion - and hopefully this also mark a return to writing more stuff on this site, as I have not done in more than a year now.

It was an odd choice, going to Oracle. I had focused extensively on robotics research and AI in my undergrad, and had a perfect little plan to spend a bit of time working on robotics in industry before most likely going back to grad school. Long story short, the robotics interviews did not pan out and I went with the backup option of just doing some data-related software engineering.

Though without a hint of relation to AI, the job at Oracle did offer the exciting prospect of working on a prototype of a product rather than small iterative feature development or bug fixing as would be the case in almost all entry level positions. But, within a short period there it became clear to me the progress being made in robotics and AI is far too exciting to not get back into that world. So I applied to Stanford’s HCP program, which allows unusually enterprising young men such as myself to get a CS Master’s degree while working full time.

The plan was to stick around Oracle long enough to hopefully see our product through to release, while getting back into research and exploring possibilities for working in AI. And the plan worked! I managed to survive doing both long enough to see our product through to a beta release. At the same time, I have become a research assistent at the Stanford AI lab (my name is listed here and everything).

And here I am, now. Research and working with robots has felt like the right thing for me to do since I’ve gotten back to it, so I expect to continue with this particular focus indefinitely. Now, there is just the small matter of figuring out exactly what specific contributions I can make in this field… all in good time.