On April 19, 2018, Uber’s women in technology group, LadyEng, hosted our second annual Uber Technology Day under the theme Going Global. The daylong event, filled with keynotes and tech talks, explored the ways in which the company has built and scaled technologies for global growth. In addition to these technical presentations, we hosted speakers from Girls Who Code, Iridescent, and #BUILTBYGIRLS for wider discussions on how tech companies can foster greater diversity and inclusion. With over 150 attendees, the event brought together members of the Uber community as well as technologists from across the Bay Area.

This year’s event featured over 30 presentations across three tracks from engineers, data scientists, and product managers on our product, platform, and infrastructure teams. These talks highlighted the ways in which our services and technologies enable safer, faster, and more reliable transportation solutions worldwide. Topics ranged from how we leverage machine learning to get more accurate estimated times of arrival (ETAs) and the ways in which we use data analytics to stop fraud, to working more effectively with your product marketing manager and the design of our IFTTT engine, Flow.

Interested in learning more? You can check out our full suite of tech talks on the Uber Engineering YouTube Channel, or, for the TL;DR version, take a look at our Tech Day highlights reel.

 

The future of transportation on the Uber platform

Uber ATG’s Raquel Urtason discusses her team’s work building autonomous vehicles.

The day kicked-off with two keynote speakers, Raquel Urtasun, Head of Uber Toronto’s Advanced Technology Group (ATG), and Celina Mikolajczak, Director of Engineering for Advanced Programs with Uber Elevate. While Raquel, who leads our ATG Research team, spoke about the future of self-driving transportation and how to make autonomy scalable, Celina discussed the specific challenges we face in battery development to make air mobility safer, more convenient, and affordable through uberAIR.

Check out Celina’s talk, Uber Elevate: Powering an Electric uberAIR Future,  below:

 

Tech talks & lightning presentations

Below are a few of the tech talks from our platform, product, and infrastructure tracks. To view all of the talks visit our Uber Engineering YouTube channel.

Platform

Tech Day’s platform track highlighted the technologies our engineering teams are building to create a global transportation platform and make the user experience across our services as seamless and reliable as possible. These presentations took a closer look at what goes on under the hood of our apps when it comes to operating at scale, from efficiently handling our financial planning to tackling customer edge cases.  

Machine Learning at Uber  

Machine learning (ML) is a fundamental decision making tool for Uber’s business. In this talk, data science manager Fran Bell provides an overview of how Uber leverages ML to make intelligent decisions across trip environments and the infrastructure choices teams make to quickly iterate and deploy solutions at scale.

Marketplace Investments

For millions of users, the average Uber trip lasts only 15 minutes, but on the backend, planning a trip can take several months. In this presentation, product manager (and Uber Tech Day 2017 attendee turned Uber employee) Linh Tran walks through how forecasting supply and demand helps Uber plan the right product investments for delivering reliable, real-time service. 

Product

The product track highlighted the engineering, design and product research that go into building and scaling Uber’s products. From uberX to Uber Eats, our products were on full display as engineers and product managers discussed the intricacies and considerations of designing and launching our services globally.  

What’s my ETA? The Billion <currency> Question

Accurate and reliable ETAs are central to a seamless and enjoyable rider experience on the Uber platform. In this talk, data scientist Sreeta Gorripaty discusses how Uber predicts ETAs via routing algorithms, traffic estimation, and machine learning models.

Global Scalable Research: Design Efficiently through Informed International Insights

Uber’s Global Scalable Research program provides insights that empower teams to build new products and features designed to improve user experiences in markets across the world. In this talk, UX researcher Nancy Douyon discusses how our Global Research team determines which products to prioritize in regional markets, as well as better understand how cultural context should impact design decisions.

Infrastructure

The talks featured as part of the infrastructure track discussed how Uber scales, maintains, and modernizes its technologies to stay up and running around the world. These systems, and the engineers behind them, keep Uber’s tech stack running as efficiently as possible while keeping up with the growth of our operations.  

The Evolution of World Map Computing Quality

Uber developed a highly robust and scalable system for metrics computation. In this talk, software engineer Ines Viskic discusses how this system uses Spark’s parallel processing framework to partition map data and compute metrics using only 100 CPU cores or less.

Software Networking at Uber through the Ages

In this talk, software engineers Brittany Walentin, Monica To, and Carissa Blossom took us on a journey through space, time, and software networking with Uber Engineering. Specifically, they covered how software networking at Uber evolved to meet the needs of its hypergrowth.

 

Afternoon Keynote with Dr. Vivienne Ming

Dr. Vivienne Ming delivers Tech Days afternoon keynote, discussing the relationship between AI and tackling inequality in the workplace.

This year we had the honor of hosting Dr. Vivienne Ming, co-founder of Socos Labs, theoretical neuroscientist, and acclaimed author, to give an afternoon keynote. Dr. Ming is best known for her ability to captivate crowds speaking on topics that range from AI systems she invented to help treat her diabetic son and cognitive neuroprosthetics to gender and inclusion in the workplace. During Dr. Ming’s keynote, she discussed how we can leverage AI to optimize human potential across medicine, facial recognition, and gender inequality.

 

Diverse perspectives on building products for a global business

Uber Tech Day closed with a panel of industry leaders who discussed how they build and scale products and the teams that build them) globally.

The conference concluded with a Going Global-themed panel featuring members from the greater tech community. We heard from Sophia Vicent, Director of Technical Program Management at Uber, Mariam Braimah, Product Designer at Netflix, Elena Grewal, Head of Data Science at Airbnb, Dawn Baker , Engineering Lead at Fitbit, and Amit Kumar, venture investor with Accel Partners about the ways in which they are going global by growing their organizations and building products at scale.

 

Diversity and Inclusion Partner Organizations

#BUILTBYGIRLS Partnerships + Growth lead, Tiana Kara, talks about how her organization aims to empower young women to pursue careers in technical fields.

This conference also served as an opportunity to discuss another topic that is central to Uber’s mission: diversity and inclusion. Attendees heard from Bo Young Lee, Uber’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, on the ways in which we plan to make Uber a more diverse and inclusive workplace that nurtures growth, community, and collaboration across our teams.

Attendees also had the opportunity to hear from three of Uber’s diversity and inclusion partner organizations: Girls Who Code, Iridescent, and #BUILTBYGIRLS. Each of these organizations is moving the needle to support and advance the next generation of women in tech. Uber will support these organizations over the course of the next few years by donating money and resources.

 

Moving forward

LadyEng Trupti Natu (L), Tal Yeshanov, Irina Stanescu, and Tara Mitchell (R) pose for a photo during the big event.

The Uber Engineering Blog will take a closer look at several of these tech talks through individual blog articles over the next several months.

Want to get involved? If any of the topics outlined above interests you, consider applying for a role on our team, and if you would like to attend future Uber Engineering events, join our Meetup group.

 

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