Meet Amber Chen, Mechanical Engineer at Ike

Oct 23, 2019 · 4 min read

Amber joined Ike in 2019 and is a mechanical engineer on our hardware team.

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Tell us about the path that led you to Ike.

My background is in consumer products where most of the mechanical work was built on previous designs. There wasn’t a lot of creativity or freedom to break those molds, and I wanted to move to an industry where there wasn’t a set answer. That’s what initially attracted me to the AV (automated vehicle) space. I was looking for a role where I could have a big impact. I didn’t know much about automation, but I read an article about Ike and knew I could confidently join this company, feel proud of what I do and not be irresponsibly affecting people’s lives by creating this new product.

What excites you the most about your job? What gets you up in the morning?

I really like the people I work with. The hardware team makes me laugh on a daily basis. We’re able to operate in this unique space where you can be proficient technically and get your work done, while still having fun in the office. How do we say it? We like to be work serious but not self serious. Some of the friendships that I’ve made in my short time at Ike are with people who will be in my life for a long time.

What’s the most common question you get about your job?

Are automated vehicles really going to become a reality? People question the ability to create the technology we’re working on. I think it’s a valid question. If you have no background in this field, it’s hard to even make sense of it. I have a lot of trust in the experience of the team, and I do think it’s achievable to create a reliable and safe automated truck. But I don’t think it would be possible without all the thought our founders have put into it.

Ike believes automation has the capacity to improve everyone’s lives if approached thoughtfully and responsibly. What does this mean to you?

I think about our drivers at Ike because they have the most insight into how trucking will change. One of our onboarding sessions even follows a day in the life of a trucker. I appreciate how our company is not blindly trying to disrupt this industry. We’re making sure we understand the effects on every single stakeholder to make sure this is a technology that will improve lives.

How will automated trucking impact the general public?

I hope when automated trucks are a reality, accident rates will decrease and drivers will feel safer. I think back to when I would drive from Austin to Dallas to come home from college. It was very common to share the highway with many trucks, and I’d always feel nervous passing one after another.

What’s something about working here that has surprised you so far?

I think the transparency of the founders with everyone in the company, regardless of whether they’re a senior engineer or an intern, is really surprising. I’ve been in places where the culture has been very closed door, especially with interns. Here our leadership is very open and trusting with information about Ike. It’s something I’ve never experienced before.

When you’re not working, what is one of your favorite things to do?

Lately I’ve been playing around with my new sewing machine — going thrifting and figuring out how to bring new life into old clothing.

Is there an item you’ve made that you cherish?

I’m still learning, so everything I’ve made so far has turned out so poorly that I can’t wear it. I have an Instagram just for myself where I log the before and after of items. I plan to look back some day and see the progress that I’ve made.

What would you be doing if you didn’t work at Ike?

I’d love to enable access to feminine hygiene products in third world countries. For my senior design project at UT Austin, my team created a pad manufacturing device for a refugee camp in Lebanon, and it’s being used there today. When girls don’t have access to basic sanitation products, they often will not attend school, which can greatly impact their futures. It’s an issue I want to work on again someday.

What would you do if you won the lottery tomorrow?

I’d buy my grandma a house.

We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

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