Getting to Know Wayfinder’s Simulation Engineer, Charvi Aggarwal

Tell us about your journey to Acubed?

I started at Acubed as an intern during the peak of the pandemic in 2020, which resulted in a special set of challenges as the entire world was trying to figure out how to proceed. Despite these unusual circumstances, I was excited about this opportunity, and Acubed exceeded my expectations, delivering a memorable and impactful experience.

The team was flexible and understanding as I started a fully-remote internship. While working from home, we maintained a close connection, making it easy to feel like we were all working from the same space. And at the end of this twelve-week program, I made an impact on a project I enjoyed working on. I developed new, real-world skills working directly with software and built irreplaceable professional relationships with a group of amazing people.

Through the internship, I gained the confidence to make the jump from my academic focus in mechanical engineering to become a software simulation engineer in my profession. I now work for the Acubed Wayfinder team, where I continue to learn daily from people with a wide breadth of experience and on the cutting edge of the simulation industry.

Why did you join the Acubed Wayfinder team?

An internship is like a two-way interview; it allows one to dive in and learn what it’s like to work at a given company. Based on my experience at Acubed, it was obvious that it was a company I wanted to continue working for: the people, the culture, the growth and the opportunity to work with a global leader in aerospace all spoke to me. It was a perfect starter package for me, who as a child dreamed of working in aerospace.

What does your day-to-day work look like? What are you working on now? Currently, I’m working on two projects, one is generating data sets that will train the models for autonomous flight, and the other is developing an in-house flight simulator. To balance those projects, I split my week, focusing two days on each project and using the fifth day for experimental work.

My work across projects falls under three primary areas:

  • Data & Imagery Generation: Machine Learning algorithms are data-hungry, and in combination with real-world data, we use synthetic data to help train our models as real-world data can be hard to obtain (think of unpredictable and degraded weather conditions). Generating synthetic data provides the ability to fly into, say 30,000 airports at the click of a button, offering a wider breadth and diversity of data that is helpful to ensure our systems can be ready for any edge cases.
  • Communication & Documentation: Like a puzzle, I’m responsible for specific parts of each project. To ensure those puzzle pieces fit together, I have to properly document my progress and that the code I write or review is also fully communicated to my team.
  • Experimental Work: Part of what is attractive about Acubed is that experimentation is encouraged; it’s part of our DNA. As a simulation engineer, I’m able to assist my team by providing Software-in-the-loop (SIL) and Hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) to explore new AI and ML algorithms throughout experimental work.

What is the biggest professional challenge you’ve encountered so far?

As my first full-time job, it can sometimes feel like I face a new challenge each day. That said, all trials have proven to be valuable lessons, whether I’m learning to prioritize my work and be pragmatic about accomplishing it or how to communicate strategically with my team.

What advice do you have for someone interested in joining Acubed?

As a student preparing for my interview and subsequent internship, reading through Acubed’s blog and website helped me get to know the organization, its work, its mission and its people.

More broadly, I would also encourage students to focus on knowing their fundamentals. Being advanced in one’s knowledge is often a way people prove themselves. Still, when starting a career, you have lots of flexibility to try things if you have a truly expert mastery of the fundamentals. For me, machine learning included matrix algebra, problem-solving, coding, etc.

Hand-in-hand with the practice of knowing one’s fundamentals, self-initiated projects can be a powerful tool to showcase your abilities, motivation and independent work capabilities. I would recommend doing small projects to demonstrate your proficiency in the topic you’re most interested in so potential employers can assess your general approach to ideas and work.

What is one thing you’re excited about outside of your work at Acubed?

I love what I do, so my life outside work frequently aligns with my day-to-day job. I recently finished up some additional education through Groundschool, which is a perk that Acubed offers that provides classes on aerodynamics, map making, and other pertinent subjects for aviators.

If you’re interested in joining our team and building the future of flight, do reach out via our open roles here.