As soon as I arrived at Amazon Robotics, I was welcomed by everyone in the office. I was given a tour of the entire facility which was followed up with a pizza lunch where all of my fellow team members greeted me. I immediately knew it would be a fun and comfortable environment.
For the first few days, Jack Desmond, the other Rivers intern, and I would be called out onto the floor at random times in order to help one of our other team members with different quality assurance (QA) tests. The floor is a massive three floor warehouse in the office where all the robots are made, tested, and improved. The tests we ran varied day to day. For instance, one day we acted as workers in a fulfillment center in order to test the efficiency of one of their new stowing stations. Here, we scanned items and placed them into different sections of eight foot tall sorting containers. We then checked to see if the station was able to correctly identify which section we placed the item into and reported any issues.
After a week, one of our co-workers assigned us a project to work on independently while we were not helping out with QA testing. In this project, we were told to update the user interface (UI) of one of their internal websites while also porting over functionality from a separate internal website. The website we were told to update is called QA Gears. Within Amazon Robotics, QA Gears is often used while testing products as it contains over thirty different tools. Some tools are extremely simple, like a unit converter between inches and centimeters, while others are complex where you have to call API’s and scan barcodes of different items and bins.
Beginning this project, I had absolutely no idea how to make UI enhancements to this website. I did not even know what CSS and HTML (programming languages needed to alter the style of a website) were. Therefore, Jack Desmond and I were forced to do hours of independent learning by using different coding websites in order to make any helpful changes. At first, this process was extremely frustrating. Simple tasks would take hours and possibly days. However, this time spent being completely lost has taught me how to persevere, tested my independence, and allowed everything I learned to really stick to my brain. I am confident that with my new skills I could build a basic website all on my own now.
My favorite enhancement that we made to the website was a search tool. With the help of one of our co-workers, Jack and I were able to create a search page that would allow any user to look for any tool on the website. Once searched, the page would link to the page where the tool was, open a specific tab, and move the viewer window to center the tool on the screen. In order to make this enhancement, we had to learn how to create and use URL parameters which allow data to be passed between pages on a website. Ultimately, this search tool will make it a great deal easier for users to navigate QA Gears.
Throughout this entire project, Jack and I have met with our manager and co-worker once a week and even had a meeting with the Senior UI Design Expert for Amazon Robotics. This process has taught us what it is like to be in a real world work environment, and we have learned the importance of hitting deadlines and reporting progress.
Overall, this summer at Amazon Robotics has been a great experience for me. I have learned so much about programming and independent learning and hope to be able to use these skills further in school and in my future jobs.