Alumni profile: Dr. Sean Harris
We catch up with alumnus Dr. Sean Harris who lives in San Fran working for Cruise where he leads a team of 50 people who work on perception and prediction.
PhD: Machine Learning, 2017
Bachelor’s degree: Software Engineering, First Class Honours, 2011
Current role and organisation: Senior Manager - Perception at Cruise
After completing a Software Engineering degree and PhD in Machine Learning at UNSW’s Computer Science and Engineering, Sean Harris moved to San Francisco to work for General Motor’s self-driving division Cruise.
In three short years, he became a Senior Engineering Manager at this billion-dollar company, leading 50 people as they work towards Cruise’s mission of delivering driverless vehicles at scale. His team focuses on perception and prediction, including everything from sensor data processing, object detection, sensor fusion, object tracking, and intent prediction.
Sean said his time at UNSW helped set him up for his roles at Cruise, highlighting his involvement in RoboCup, the CSE societies and completing a PhD.
Sean was the Team Leader for RoboCup for two and a half years, and during this time steered the team to its first win in over 10 years.
“The problems we tackled for the RoboCup competition are very similar to the robotics problems in industry,” he says.
“The experience leading the team was also great practice for becoming an Engineering Manager down the track. Leading a team to win RoboCup had a lot of similarities to managing a successful team in the workplace.”
Sean also attributes some of his leadership skills to his involvement in the CSE societies CSESoc and CSE Revue and encourages students to get involved.
“Your degree gives you a great foundation for the technical skills, but taking leadership roles in these societies teaches you a lot about leadership, people management and the general soft skills that are critical for career success.”
While on the RoboCup team Sean started his PhD in Machine Learning. He says his PhD helped him develop his abilities in how to push state-of-the-art within an area, formulate and evaluate hypotheses, and other research-specific skills.
Although Sean is still early on in his industry career, he has already represented Cruise at some of the largest Machine Learning conferences. Watch Sean’s presentation on Intent Prediction for the NeurIPS Conference in 2019.