Rajeev Singh, Chief Technology Officer: Why I Joined AutoGrid

4 min read

I joined AutoGrid in March 2011, so I’ve been with the company from day zero.  I was fascinated by the idea of an engineering system that could control the electricity grid by applying machine learning and Big Data and controls. The concept was a very large closed loop control system that could operate on a single platform, something that hadn’t seemed possible in the past. I was given the incredible opportunity to build this system from scratch, from zero lines of code—the third time in my career I had done this. That was truly exciting. Currently, I am working on forward looking technologies that will take AutoGrid to the next level of scale, capability and global reach.

A Compelling—and Cool—place to Work

AutoGrid is a unique place to work. We are trying to solve extremely critical and complex problems in the rapidly evolving new energy domain, by applying state-of-the-art machine learning techniques, as well as Internet-scale computing technologies. We’re doing this for a cause that’s very, very compelling. Our mission is to reduce the impact of greenhouse gases by applying cutting-edge Silicon Valley technologies to optimize energy production and consumption. So, not only do we deal with the latest technologies, but we actually apply them for something incredibly useful — for us and for our next generations. That’s why AutoGrid is such a cool place to work.

A Place to Build a Career

AutoGrid is a great place to build a career as an engineer. I’ve worked in Silicon Valley for 20+ years now and I firmly believe that the best way to build a career is to be a part of something which is both meaningful and deployed at scale.  This way, your work speaks for itself.  At AutoGrid, we are currently running production on four different continents. To be a part of something this technically challenging and complex, which provides value in disparate electricity markets and different geographies, gives you a huge advantage. You can point to big portions of this system that, as an engineer, you have personally built, and that will look great on anyone’s resume.

Because of the company’s relatively small size, engineers are also exposed to a wide array of technologies. From state-of-the-art data science, forecasting and optimization techniques, Big Data and stream processing techniques, control theory, smart grid protocols, industrial control systems, consumer and industrial IoT systems, cybersecurity, network design, cloud native architectures, the list goes on and on — it is a vast plethora of technologies that we deal with every day. These prepare a young engineer starting out in their career to rapidly mature and grow professionally.

Fast-paced But Collegiate, Open Environment

We work in a typical Silicon Valley, fast-paced environment. However, the environment is also quite collegial, collaborative and open. We have a lot of PhDs from top global universities and a lot of very smart people who are passionate about their fields of expertise, but everyone is incredibly willing to share their knowledge and ideas and, at the same time, listen to yours. Given that we’re trying to solve such massive technical challenges, we need to all work together. No one knows everything!

It is always a pleasure to be able to walk up to an expert in a particular field and chat with them and learn more about any aspect of the business or the industry as a whole. These conversations can really be about anything, as we’re all learning from each other as we build this company. These topics might be the intricacies of SCADA systems or Spark, or container orchestration or a distributed system scaling problem or networking concepts. We use chat extensively, given that we have employees in several countries. People are always curious and are trying to solve a complex set of problems in a rapidly evolving field.

Time For Fun, Too

Not that it’s all work and no play! We have our happy hour every Thursday. We do “Jog-Your-Mind” sessions on Fridays where anybody can come in and present on any topic. It especially helps young engineers practice their presentation skills in front of a friendly crowd. We have a beautiful lake behind our office where we do our one-on-one walk around meetings. And we have a gym. A number of people are into running, so they take advantage of the peaceful and serene trails outside the office to go jogging.

Between the lively conversations and interactions and the fascinating problem solving, there’s always something exciting going on at AutoGrid.

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