Interview with Deniz Akyıldız (Hardware Team)

 1. Quick introduction of yourself!!

My name is Deniz Akyildiz, I am a 3rd year Electrical Engineering student and a member of the hardware team in aUToronto. I have a passion for robotics and that is what I am focusing on in my studies, specifically control and software.


2. Why aUToronto?

I first received an email from the faculty about a new self-driving car team in, I guess it was May 2017. Back then I was a first year and did not really know what I wanted to do, but a self-driving car team sounded very interesting. I mean, you are literally making history when you think about it. You are building something that is not built before and I thought that is how you have a positive impact on humanity. That is why I joined aUToronto and have been trying my best since the team started. 


3. What is your role in the team? What is your goal for this year?

I’ve been a member of the hardware team since the very beginning of this journey. What we do as the hardware team is to make sure all the sensors are working and implemented as planned. This includes synchronization of the sensors, powering the sensors, transferring the data from sensors to our server, and designing and building the mounts for these sensors. I focus more on the electrical side, specifically the data and power. Our goal for this year is to get all the new sensors for the second year, in addition to the ones we used last year, up and running as soon as possible so the rest of the team can iterate on what they are planning to do with the sensors. Meanwhile we are planning to build a more robust system by using some PCBs.


4. How did your experience help you with working in the industry?

Last summer I was an intern at NVIDIA’s Autonomous Vehicles team. I can comfortably say that my experience with aUToronto was extremely useful in the industry. I think having a chance to work in a field like this outside of the industry is very rare, and University of Toronto is one of the few universities where you can get your hands on a self-driving car. I find myself lucky to be part of this team and this university.


5. What inspires you in daily life? What is your passion?

I love challenges. I like solving unique problems by trying new methods. My inspiration is the progress humanity made, and I would like to contribute to this. Who would think we would be working on self-driving cars fifty years ago? This incredible advancement is my source of inspiration.


6. What are your hobbies outside of work, or school?

I love playing chess. I try to go to the events and play casually, but sometimes I do not have time for it. I have been playing basketball for a long time and I really enjoy watching soccer. Go Beşiktaş!

- Interviewed by Syed Rafi Tanzim