We recently had a thunderstorm roll through the area and I shot a video of our lead mechanical engineer standing in the pouring rain trying to capture rain data as it was happening. That one image sums up what we do here. When we hire someone, we’re looking for something we call “relentless adaptability.”
Our team is constantly evaluating problems, coming up with potential solutions, testing out said solutions, and applying what we’ve learned from those trials to move forward. Engineering is about continuously adapting to new challenges.
An excellent example of this is how we refined our rain capture feature. We regularly deploy weather stations out in the field to test our rain capture ability. In one area, we were getting some strange readings of pouring rain every single night from 6 to 8 p.m. This data didn't make sense when compared to other nearby reference stations, which reported no rain at all.
Through some investigation, we discovered that there was a species of insect that was putting out its mating call at that time – and it just happened to be at the same frequency we were picking up and categorizing as indicative of rain in our weather stations.
Our engineering team was able to capture the raw data and characterize it for our data science team. With both teams working together, our data scientists were able to isolate that signal quickly and literally remove a bug from our system! (For the record, it was a coneheaded katydid and they are extremely loud.)
So we need people who can deal with the unexpected, rapidly diagnose a problem, figure out what to do, and then implement the solution as quickly as possible. Our engineers have a broad view of what's happening across the company, and often they help our data scientists look at problems through a different lens. So cross-collaboration across departments is critical here.
We expect our people to not only pay attention to their own tasks, but to also understand the company’s goals and to know how their roles contribute to reaching those goals. Whether you are one out of ten people or one out of a hundred people, a single engineer can have an enormous impact on a business.